Court rejects Arizona death row inmate’s appeal, rules Constitution does not guarantee pain-free death

An Arizona death row inmate lost his latest appeal case this week, with the judge ruling the United States Constitution “does not require a pain-free execution.”

Frank Atwood was convicted for the 1984 murder of 8 year old Vicki Lynn Hoskinson, who was taken by Atwood as she was riding her bicycle to mail a card for her aunt. Her remains were found in 1985 and Atwood was sentenced in 1987. Since then Atwood has appealed the sentence several times. This week’s ruling denied Atwood’s request for any commutation of sentence, reprieve or pardon of his scheduled execution which will take place this Wednesday.

Lawyers for Atwood say their client, who has a degenerative spinal condition, would be subject to cruel and unusual punishment by being forced to lie flat on a gurney while receiving a lethal injection. Atwood uses a wheelchair full-time.

The judge ruled that Atwood would not face any further discomfort on the gurney than he would in his cell, and the prison has agreed to provide a medical wedge used to relieve pressure on the spine, and tilt the table as needed to relieve pain. However, the judge said, the United States Constitution “does not require a pain-free execution.”

Atwood’s lawyers also argued against the use of a lethal gas for execution, which was one of the choices offered to Atwood. However, Atwood refused to choose so the default, lethal injection, was chosen for him. The judge ruled the argument did not hold up because Atwood will not be receiving the gas.

The use of Arizona’s gas chambers for lethal execution have been a source of controversy, as Arizona is the only state that still has a working gas chamber. Atwood’s lawyers likened the method to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

There are currently 112 death row inmates in Arizona. The attorney will continue to fight the execution even as it approaches this week, saying they have exculpatory evidence that would prove his innocence in the murder. 




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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