‘Schizophrenic’ Convicted Man Requests Relief as Execution Nears

Undated photo provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections shows Clarence Dixon, who was sentenced to death in the 1977 killing of Deana Bowdoin, a 21-year-old Arizona State University student. PC: ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, REHABILITATION AND REENTRY VIA AP

By Nora Dahl

PHOENIX, AZ – Lawyers for Clarence Dixon, whose execution is set early next month, submitted a petition requesting the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency and Governor Doug Ducey reduce Dixon’s death sentence before his May 11 execution date.

The 65 year-old defendant suffers from severe schizophrenia, chronic wasting syndrome and currently weighs a mere 100 pounds. Dixon also has, according to his lawyers, heart problems, blindness, and had a terrible upbringing defined by verbally and physically abusive parents.

Dixon has been convicted of first degree murder, kidnapping, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of aggravated assault, and first degree murder.

Lawyers said the man has been living with untreated schizophrenia since 21, when he first turned to alcoholism and drug addiction to cope with his traumatizing past.

Two days after Dixon was sentenced to death, he was finally declared legally insane upon inspection at Arizona State Hospital.

When Dixon was charged, he represented himself, said Dixon’s current lawyers, criticizing the trial judge should not have allowed that—as a result, the jury was denied information that may have made a difference in the trial and sentencing, as the lawyers’ pleading states.

The attorney’s petition explains that Dixon’s physical ailments will make his death by lethal injection inhumanely painful.

One of his attorneys [name not disclosed] spoke on record stating, “His [Dixon’s] lungs, liver, and heart are damaged enough that it might take longer to circulate the medication to reach full toxicity dose leaving him feeling some of the effects of Pentobarbital but not all of them.”

The petition states that granting clemency is the only way to prevent “killing a sick, elderly man in what may amount to a torturous death.”


About The Author

Nora Dahl is a second year History of Public Policy and Law major, and English minor, at UC Santa Barbara. She enjoys writing, advocating for social justice, and pyschology. Nora speaks fluent Norwegian and English. She plans to graduate Spring 2024, and hopes to attend law school.

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