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Arizona Board of Clemency declines to stop execution of Clarence Dixon

Clarence Dixon is the next inmate scheduled to be executed in Arizona.

ARIZONA, USA — Arizona’s clemency board has unanimously declined to recommend to Gov. Doug Ducey that the death sentence of a prisoner be delayed or reduced to life in prison in what would be the state's first use of the death penalty in nearly eight years.

Clarence Dixon killed Deana Bowdin back in 1978 but wasn’t convicted until 2008 and sentenced to death.

Emotional testimony

Deana Bowdin’s sister, Leslie Bowdin James appeared before the board as part of prosecutors’ arguments against the reprieve and commutation requests.

Bowdin James said she’s been at 42 hearings and sat at every day of the trial since Dixon was caught.

Bowdin James said it was Deana Bowdin that was supposed to be the sibling to get married and have kids.

“She never had a chance to do that,” Bowdin James said. “And this inmate took that away from her and took her away from us.”

She pleaded for the board to not recommend a reprieve or commutation for Dixon asking for a conclusion of justice in the death of her sister

“For me and for my parents, and for all of the women are brutalized by this inmate, including his ex-wife, including his sister, for society and most of all, for my sister Deana,” Bowdin James said. 

“There is not one legal, social, or moral imperative for recommending reprieve or commutation of this inmate's death sentence and May 11 execution.”

Defense: Jury not presented with mental health issues

Attorneys for Dixon appeared before the board Thursday outlining information they said a jury did not have at Dixon’s 2008 trial related to his mental health.

They argued Dixon was insane before he killed Deana Bowdin, was still insane 30 years after the murder when Dixon represented himself at trial, and is still insane today.

Testimony was heard from a public defender that was on Dixon’s capital case before Dixon fired him, a clinical psychologist that has evaluated Dixon since his conviction, among others.

The former public defender, Garrett Simpson, took much of the blame several times during his testimony for a competency hearing not being held before Dixon represented himself at trial.

“We wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t made that misjudgment,” Simpson said.

Dr. John Toma said when he evaluated Dixon, he diagnosed him as having schizophrenia, which he said two other psychologists also diagnosed him with before Deana Bowdin’s murder.

Toma believed Dixon was suffering from schizophrenia at the time Deana Bowdin was murdered.

Reprieve/commutation denied

However, prosecutors argued, that Dixon had a constitutional right to represent himself at trial and that it was a strategic decision to not present mitigation or not press a guilty by reason of insanity plea.

Ultimately, board members found from trial transcripts that they believe Dixon to have represented himself well, and competent now to go forward with his execution.

The board voted unanimously to not recommend a reprieve or commutation for Dixon.

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