Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Hobbs Refuses to Enforce Death Penalty in Arizona

(Headline USAArizona’s attorney general has put a hold on executions in the state after the governor ordered a review of death penalty protocols.

The review ordered Friday by Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s first Democratic governor since 2009, came as the state’s new Democratic attorney general, Kris Mayes, withdrew her Republican predecessor’s request for a warrant to execute a convicted killer who initially asked to be executed but later backed out of that request.

While Hobbs’ order didn’t declare a moratorium on the death penalty, Mayes will not seek court orders to execute prisoners while the review is underway, said Mayes spokesperson Richie Taylor.

The review comes just days after the governor appointed Ryan Thornell, a prison official in Maine, as Arizona’s new corrections director.

Arizona, which currently has 110 prisoners on death row, carried out three executions last year.

The state has been criticized for taking too long to insert an IV into a condemned prisoner’s body in early May and for denying the Arizona Republic newspaper’s request to witness the last three executions.

On Friday, Mayes withdrew a motion made by her Republican predecessor Mark Brnovich for a warrant for the execution of Aaron Gunches, who was first sentenced to death in 2008 for killing his girlfriend’s ex-husband.

Gunches earlier this month withdrew his request to be executed, citing recent executions he said amounted to “torture.”

Arizona is the only state to currently have a working gas chamber.

The last lethal gas execution in the United States was carried out in Arizona more than two decades ago. The state refurbished its gas chamber in late 2020. Corrections officials had declined to say why they restarted the gas chamber.

All three prisoners executed in Arizona last year declined lethal gas, leading them to be put to death by injection, the default execution method.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press


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