Arizona AG wants to stop death-row prisoner’s mental fitness test

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Saturday, April 16, 2022 - 2:39pm
Updated: Monday, April 18, 2022 - 9:12am

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Clarence Dixon
Arizona Department of Corrections
Clarence Dixon

Prosecutors have asked the Arizona Supreme Court to call off a mental-fitness hearing for death-row prisoner Clarence Dixon. The examination may delay the state’s first execution since 2014.

In a filing Wednesday, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office told the court the mental competency hearing scheduled for May 3 is likely to delay his May 11 execution date.

Dixon was been sentenced to death for the 1977 murder of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin. 

Dixon’s lawyers have said he erroneously believes he will be executed for a different crime he committed — a 1985 rape of a Northern Arizona University student.

Dixon’s attorneys say putting him to death would violate protections against executing people who are mentally incompetent. They cited a psychiatrist’s conclusion that their client lacks a rational understanding of the reasons for his execution.

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