State moves closer to executing man convicted of killing Tucson child in 1984

State moves closer to executing man convicted of killing Tucson child in 1984
Frank Atwood was convicted of killing 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in Tucson in September 1984. (Source: Arizona Department of Corrections)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona is one step closer to executing two convicted murders, including one from Tucson.

On Tuesday, April 6, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he has notified the state Supreme Court that he will seek warrants for the execution of Frank Jarvis Atwood and Clarence Dixon.

Brnovich said he asked the court to schedule a briefing and that both men have exhausted their appeals.

Atwood was convicted of killing Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, 8, in Tucson in September 1984. Hoskinson was riding her bike home after mailing a birthday card to her aunt when Atwood kidnapped and killed her before dumping her body in a desert area off Ina Road. Atwood fled to Texas, but was arrested days later on a kidnapping charge. Hoskinson’s body was found by a hiker in April 1985 and Atwood was charged with murder.

Investigators said they were able to connect Atwood to the murder by matching the pink paint from Hoskinson’s bike to Atwood’s vehicle. They also found nickel plating from Atwood’s car on the bike.

Before Hoskinson’s death, Atwood was convicted of kidnapping and lewd and lascivious acts in California. Both victims were children. In May 1984, he was paroled and moved to Tucson, which was a violation of his parole.

Clarence Dixon was convicted of killing Arizona State student Deana Bowdoin in Tempe in January 1978.
Clarence Dixon was convicted of killing Arizona State student Deana Bowdoin in Tempe in January 1978. (Source: Arizona Department of Corrections)

In January 1978, 21-year-old Arizona State student Deana Bowdoin was raped, strangled and stabbed to death in her Tempe apartment.

The case was unsolved for two decades until Dixon was identified through DNA profiling.

Dixon was already serving a life sentence for a 1986 sexual assault. In 2002, he was found guilty of Bowdoin’s death by a jury and sentenced to death.

“Capital punishment is the law in Arizona and the appropriate response to those who commit the most shocking and vile murders,” Brnovich said in a news release. “This is about the administration of justice and ensuring the last word still belongs to the innocent victims who can no longer speak for themselves.”

Due to several factors, including a problem securing the drugs used in lethal injections, Arizona has not executed anyone since 2014. There are 115 inmates on death row in Arizona and around 20 have exhausted all appeals.

Atwood and Dixon will be allowed to choose from lethal injection or gas.

Brnovich said if the court agrees to the proposed schedule, he will file execution warrants for Atwood and Dixon 16 days before the briefing.

Atwood and Dixon will get one day to respond and Brnovich’s office will have the chance to respond within six days.

If the Supreme Court grants the motions, the state will have 35 days to carry out the executions.

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