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Clarence Dixon, Arizona's first execution in 8 years, is dead

Dixon was sentenced to death after the murder of 21-year-old Deana Bowdoin in 1978. Dixon's attorneys were seeking a last-minute stay by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FLORENCE, Ariz. — Editor's note: The above video aired during a previous broadcast.

Clarence Dixon, a 66-year-old Navajo man, was executed Wednesday morning by lethal injection, Arizona's first execution in eight years.

Dixon was sentenced to death after he was connected to the 1978 murder of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin almost 30 years after her death. A cold case detective with Tempe police used DNA evidence to track down Dixon. 

He was executed with a single dose of the sedative pentobarbital and was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m.


Dixon's attorneys attempted to halt the execution numerous times for various reasons, including Dixon allegedly being incompetent to be executed and the lethal drug reportedly being past its expiration date. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the attorneys' last appeal under an hour before the execution took place.

The execution ended decades of waiting for Bowdoin's family.

Leslie James, the older sister of the victim, Deana Bowdoin, was in federal court Monday morning as the proceedings unfolded. Because of the ongoing legal wrangling over the case, she declined to comment through her attorney.

The execution is historic as Arizona's first in nearly a decade after a botched execution in 2014 proved to be a turning point. This execution casted a spotlight on what one critic has called Arizona's "relentless search" for ways to put condemned inmates to death. 

"The first lethal injection execution occurred in 1982, and that injection was botched," said Deborah Denno, a Fordham University professor who is an expert on execution methods. 

"That's always been a problematic method of execution. But it's only gotten worse over the past decade, because of this scramble and experimentation with drugs."

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VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Murió Clarence Dixon por inyección letal. Representa la primera ejecución en Arizona después de 8 años

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