Arizona executes first death row inmate in 8 years; Clarence Dixon murdered ASU student

Clarence Dixon accused the doctors of worshipping death in his last words, according to a media witness

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Arizona executed the first death row inmate in eight years on Wednesday morning for the 1978 murder of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin. 

Clarence Dixon, 66, was put to death by lethal injection in Florence, making him the sixth inmate to be executed in the United States this year. 

Arizona hadn't executed an inmate since July 2014, when Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a drug cocktail over a two-hour period in what his lawyers called a botched execution. 

This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Clarence Dixon, who was executed Wednesday morning for a 1978 murder. 

This undated file photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Clarence Dixon, who was executed Wednesday morning for a 1978 murder.  (Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry via AP, File)

"The last execution that I witnessed was that of Joe Wood eight years ago. We’ve talked a lot about that, the botched execution as its called. That did not go as planned. This one did," Troy Haden, an anchor for the Fox 10 News in Phoenix who witnessed Dixon's execution, said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

"Once the drugs started flowing, he went to sleep almost immediately," Wood added of Dixon's death. 

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Prosecutors said that Dixon raped and murdered Bowdoin while they were both students at ASU in 1978. 

Authorities didn't connect him to Bowdoin's death until he was arrested in 1985 for assaulting a Northern Arizona University student and sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault and other crimes in that case. 

While he was in prison, DNA samples connected him to Bowdoin's murder, which he was later convicted for and sentenced to death. 

The state prison is seen early, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Florence, Ariz. 

The state prison is seen early, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Florence, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Just before being executed Wednesday morning, Dixon told the doctors that they "worship death," then had a message for the woman he was convicted of murdering. 

"Maybe I’ll see you on the other side, Deana. I don’t know you and I don’t remember you," Dixon said before dying, according to Haden. 

Dixon's attorneys argued that their client was schizophrenic and had previously been found "not guilty by reason of insanity" in a 1977 assault case. 

The Supreme Court denied a last minute delay of Dixon's execution on Wednesday morning. 

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Frank Atwood, another death row prisoner in Arizona, is scheduled to be executed next month for the 1984 murder of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, an 8-year-old girl. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.