American executed in Arizona for the murder of a young girl

Sentenced to capital punishment for the murder of a young girl in 1984, he had brought several legal actions.

An American, sentenced to death for the murder of a young girl almost 40 years ago, was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday in Arizona, which had once offered to opt for the gas chamber. Frank Atwood, 66, was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m. in Florence State Prison, the Arizona Corrections Service said in a statement.

In 1984, he kidnapped an 8-year-old girl who was riding a bicycle in the city of Tucson. His body was found seven months later in the desert. Sentenced to capital punishment in 1987, he then lodged several legal appeals in vain. His death was also delayed by the 2014 suspension of executions in Arizona following the long agony of a convict convulsing after being given the lethal substances.

The sprawling southern US state finally revived the practice last month when it executed Clarence Dixon, a Native American convicted of murdering a student 30 years earlier. To overcome objections to the legality of lethal injections, Arizona now gives death row inmates the option of inhaling lethal gas. Neither Clarence Dixon nor Frank Atwood have spoken, which amounts to accepting the lethal injection.

But the prospect of a reinstatement of the gas chamber shocked, especially as prison authorities plan to use hydrogen cyanide, the main element of Zyklon-B, gas associated with the Holocaust. But Frank Atwood’s mother was Jewish and had fled Austria in 1939 to escape the Nazis, according to the lawyer for the condemned, Me Joe Perkovich. Seven executions have taken place in the United States since the beginning of the year.

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