PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN) — It has been seven years since Arizona put a prison inmate to death. Now the state is preparing to resume executions. KGUN9 On Your Side talked to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich about why he thinks executions are the right thing to do.
As Arizona's top law enforcement officer, the Attorney General oversees matters of crime and punishment, and now he's overseeing a return to the death penalty.
Arizona’s executions stopped for several years because pharmaceutical companies were unwilling to sell the drugs for lethal injections. Now the State of Arizona has found a supply. Attorney General Mark Brnovich will not say who’s making it possible for executions to resume.
He says, “There are crimes that are so terrible, so heinous that we as a society, only by carrying out executions, demonstrate how serious we think those crimes really are.”
Brnovich says 21 death row inmates have run out of appeals. He sees executing them as a matter of law and justice.
“I think for a lot of victims, it provides an opportunity for closure. I mean there are folks like Debbie Carlson in Tucson and Pima County. I’ve personally sat with her many times and talked about how her poor daughter Vicki Lynn died. And when you talk to people like Debbie Carlson, they will tell you that the only way they're going to get closure in their life is for justice to happen, and justice means executing the killer that assaulted her daughter and killed her,” said Brnovich.
Vicki Lynn Hoskinson was eight years old when she was kidnapped and killed 37 years ago.
Frank Atwood already had a conviction for molesting children when exactly 34 years ago, a jury found him guilty of Vicki Lynn’s murder.
In a 2019 interview, Debbie Carlson said, “When I hear his name, and I think about him, I think about evil. I just know I have a hard time understanding why it's taken us so long."
Brnovich says, “He will be one of the folks that I'm sure is going to be at the top of our list. We haven't made those decisions yet, we're consulting with victims' families, and the Department of Corrections, and we're gonna do everything we can and do everything I can to ensure that every 21 of those individuals [who] have exhausted their appeals ends up getting the death penalty before I leave office.”
Debbie Carlson knows people who oppose the death penalty quote the Constitution which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.
But she says, “Nothing's more cruel than the way my daughter died. Nothing's more cruel than the last words she spoke. Nothing's more cruel than her trying to live after he did what he did to her. Nothing is more cruel than to be out laying in the desert for six months, three weeks and two days. Nothing's more cruel to only finding a third of your daughter's body."
Asked if Arizona can avoid a repeat of a 2014 execution of Joseph Wood where the prisoner took two hours to die, Brnovich says that man was unconscious and he wants to focus on the victims.