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Clarence Dixon executed for 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin

The State of Arizona executed Clarence Dixon for the 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin.
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:58 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Early Wednesday, May 11, Arizona executed its first inmate in nearly eight years.

Clarence Dixon took his last breath around 10:30 a.m. at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence.

On Jan. 7, 1978, Dixon raped, strangled and fatally stabbed 21-year-old Arizona State student Deana Bowdoin.

For years, police couldn’t find Bowdoin’s killer.

About 20 years ago, a Tempe Police detective re-opened the case and identified a suspect thanks to the new DNA profiling technology.

Dixon was already serving life in prison for a 1986 sexual assault conviction.

In 2002, he was indicted for Bowdoin’s murder.

It took a Maricopa County jury just 17 minutes to deliberate before finding Dixon guilty and sentenced him to death.

Dixon stared at the ceiling as he delivered his final statement.

“Arizona Supreme Court should follow the laws,” he said. “They denied my appeals and petitions to change the outcome of this trial. I do and will always proclaim innocence. Now let’s do this (expletive).”

A media witness said as medical staff prepared the IV, Dixon spoke to the doctors and to his victim.

“This is really funny,” he said. “You are being as thorough as possible as you try to kill me. How twisted is this? You worship death don’t you. I know you are seeing this Deana, you know I didn’t kill you.”

We’re told the doctors struggled to put the IV in one of Dixon’s arms, poking him a few times as he grimaced.

“Make sure you missed the first time right, to teach me a lesson,” Dixon said to the doctor.

The doctor then said something to Dixon, who responded with, “Is that your best doctor voice? I thought you had a Hippocratic Oath, bet the money is better here though.”

At 10:19 a.m., doctors began the flow of lethal dose of pentobarbital.

Dixon’s final words were, “maybe I will see you on the other side Deana. I don’t know you and I don’t remember you.”

Deana’s sister Leslie Bowdoin James said she waited for more than 44 years for justice to be served, and Wednesday, that happened.

However, James said this is not closure.

“I hate that word. Everyone is different,” she said. “This was finality for this process and it’s relief, it was way too long. This process was way, way too long.”

James said Deana was just eight hours shy of graduating from ASU when she was murdered.

James said Deana loved to travel and was studying international marketing while working a part-time job for a patent attorney.

“Although we looked a lot alike in our younger years, she was more personable and friendly,” she said. “She was the one who was supposed to have an exciting career, get married and produce grandkids for my mom. But it didn’t work out that way for her.”

James said there were some numbers she wanted people to know.

“One in 17 octillion: The results of the recent DNA test reporting the likelihood that Dean’s murderer was anyone other than this inmate. Forty-three and twenty, the number of hearings I have attended over 20 years since indictment. 21, 23, 45, and 46: The ages when Deana’s, my, and my parents’ lives were either taken or irreparably changed, due to this inmate’s choices and actions,” James said.

The last numbers Leslie mentioned were “1 and 0: Numbers of sisters I had up until, and after, January 7, 1978.”

When asked about those who oppose the death penalty, James said, “If you don’t care for the law that is in place, then there are steps to try to get the law changed, but that is the law.”

When asked if she wanted to change the law, James didn’t hesitate.

“No,” she said.

James said she has one request, to please remember Deana Lynn Bowdoin.

“I think the world lost a good one when she was taken,” James said.

KOLD asked James if she had hoped to hear an apology from Dixon or if she was surprised by what he had to say.

“I’m not going to waste any more breath or time on him,” she said.

There are approximately 112 inmates on Arizona’s death row, 23 have exhausted all of their appeals.

Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.