Blind Death Row Inmate Executed After DNA Found Him Guilty Of Murder Committed Four Decades Ago

Emily Brown

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Blind Death Row Inmate Executed After DNA Found Him Guilty Of Murder Committed Four Decades Ago

Featured Image Credit: Arizona Department of Correction

A death row inmate in Arizona has been executed after DNA evidence found him guilty of a murder which took place more than 40 years ago.

Clarence Dixon, 66, became Arizona's first execution in eight years as he received the lethal injection today (11 May), after receiving a death sentence in 2008.

Dixon was convicted of the killing of 21-year-old Deana Bowdoin, an Arizona State University student who was sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed in her apartment in 1978. Dixon had been living across the street from Bowdoin at the time of her murder, but it wasn't until thirty years later that DNA testing eventually linked Dixon to the student's death. 

At the time of the revelation Dixon was already serving a life sentence at the Arizona State Prison System for a sexual assault in a different case in 1986.

Deana Bowdoin. Credit: Family handout
Deana Bowdoin. Credit: Family handout

In his last statement before his execution, Dixon condemned the Arizona Supreme Court for denying his appeals and said he would always proclaim his innocence.

According to a media representative cited by ABC News, he said: "Maybe I'll see you on the other side Deana. I don't know you and I don't remember you."

Taylor Tasler, a media witness for KTAR, added that Dixon gasped after the drugs were administered before appearing to fall asleep, The Arizona Republic reports.

Lawyers for the convicted killer sought to prevent his death as they argued it would be unconstitutional to kill Dixon because he was mentally unfit and unable to understand.

They claimed he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and suffered from hallucinations, but on Tuesday, just one day before Dixon's execution date, a federal judge sided with a state court's conclusion the inmate was competent. The US Supreme Court denied a last-minute request to halt his execution, and Dixon was ultimately pronounced dead at 10:30am local time. Leslie James, sister of Deana Bowdoin, described the student as a 'beautiful person, inside and out'.

In a statement relating to Dixon's execution cited by The Arizona Republic, she commented: "The last forty-four plus years of reliving Deana’s brutal murder as well as enduring the trial and appellate litigation has been nothing short of horrific for our family. As victims, the Arizona Constitution guarantees a prompt and final conclusion of this matter. Nothing about this case or my experience in the criminal justice system has been prompt."

Dixon was identified by police after detective Tom Magazzeni of the Tempe Police Department began working on homicide cases and began looking into cold cases. Thanks to the development of technology the department were able to run DNA evidence from Bowdoin's case through a new nationwide database, and in 2001 Magazzeni received a call to say the DNA matched that of Dixon's.

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Topics: News, Crime, US News

Emily Brown
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