PHOENIX — Clarence Dixon, a man convicted of murder and sexual assault connected to a 1978 death, has been unanimously denied reprieve and commutation by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency Thursday afternoon.
Dixon's clemency hearing is one effort his attorneys are making to postpone or rescind the execution warrant.
Pending any appeals, Dixon is scheduled to be executed May 11th, which would make this the first execution in Arizona since the botched attempt in 2014. That execution left a man gasping for air for nearly two hours and put a halt to executions in the state.
Dixon’s legal team hammered in their argument that Dixon is mentally ill and has several disabilities, including blindness and health issues.
“I also want to acknowledge the profound pain and suffering that has brought us here today as a result of Deana Bowdin’s senseless and brutal murder,” said Amanda Bass, an Assistant Public Federal Defender for Dixon.
They added that had the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office committed Dixon to a mental hospital 48 hours before Bowdoin's murder, things would look a lot different.
“This would have never happened. Ms. Bowdoin would still be with us if the county attorney’s office had obeyed Judge O'Connor's order, back in 1978,” said someone from Dixon’s legal counsel.
The prosecution though, not letting up saying Dixon is coherent and was aware of what he chose to do, both when he was committing crimes and when he chose to represent himself and waive representation in trial.
“The law applies to all. Equal justice under law is the hallmark of our system of justice and it applies to folks who are senior citizens, and it applies to folks who may be disabled,” said John Schneider, with the prosecution.
Deana Bowdoin’s sister, also speaking out, recounting how difficult this has all been for her family.
“Today’s appearance revolves around the January 7th,1978 choices and actions taken by this inmate to punch, rape, stab and strangle to death my only sister Deana,” said Leslie James, Deana Bowdoin’s sister.
Adding her sister is only one of many of Dixon’s victims.
“We haven’t heard from any of the other women that this defendant, this inmate has brutalized, terrorized, no telling when…” added James.
After about six hours of testimony, the clemency board members made a decision.
They unanimously agreed they heard and saw sufficient evidence to concluded Dixon was aware of what was going on and had the mental capacity to understand and admit to his wrongdoings.
If the board had voted to recommend commutation or reprieve, the decision would then move to Governor Doug Ducey, who would not have been required to follow the recommendation.
Dixon has a competency hearing scheduled for May 3 to decide if he is mentally fit to be executed.