Last week, Arizona’s clemency board unanimously voted to deny a clemency application for Clarence Dixon, clearing the way for the state’s first execution in eight years. The board’s decision means the case will not go to the governor’s office, making Dixon’s execution, scheduled for May 11, likely.
Courthouse News reports that Dixon was sentenced to death for the killing of 21-year-old Arizona State student Deana Bowdoin in 1978. Two days before Bowdoin’s death, then-Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sandra Day O’Connor (later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court) found Dixon not guilty by reason of insanity of an assault case and issued an order that Dixon should be admitted to Arizona State Hospital. But that didn’t happen, and Dixon was released.
However, he wasn’t convicted of Bowdoin’s murder until 2008, when her case was re-opened, and DNA evidence implicated Dixon, who was serving a life sentence for another assault.
Dixon’s lawyers have argued that he was the victim of severe abuse as a child growing up in the Navajo Nation, and has been diagnosed several times as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He is 66 years old, nearly blind from glaucoma, and suffers from heart, lung, liver, and bladder problems. A hearing on a defense motion to determine if Dixon is mentally competent to be executed is set for next week.
Arizona’s last execution was in 2014, when Joseph Wood was killed in a botched procedure that took two hours and 15 doses of a combination of lethal drugs, according to UPI.