Death Penalty

Arizona governor won't carry out lethal injection, despite execution warrant by top state court

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AP Katie Hobbs Jan 2023

Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers her State of the State address at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Jan. 9. Photo by Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press.

Democrat Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs said Friday her administration won’t carry out an execution to allow for a review of the state’s death-penalty protocols.

A day before Hobbs spoke, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an execution warrant for Aaron Gunches and rejected a bid by Kris Mayes, the state attorney general, to withdraw the execution request. Hobbs and Mayes are Democrats who replaced their Republicans predecessors.

The Associated Press and AZCentral have coverage.

Gunches was sentenced to death for a 2002 murder, according to AZCentral.

The Arizona Supreme Court said the criteria for issuing an execution warrant had been met, obligating it to issue the warrant, according to previous coverage by AZCentral and the AP.

Hobbs’ review of the death-penalty protocol “does not constitute good cause for refraining from issuing the warrant,” the state supreme court said.

Hobbs has appointed retired U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan to review the state’s death-penalty protocols.

The state currently has 110 prisoners on death row, according to the AP.

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