An Arizona man convicted of murdering eight-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984 was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday (June 8).
His legal team argued that Atwood, who was in a wheelchair, would undergo excruciating suffering strapped to the gurney while lying on his back due to his degenerative spinal condition, thus violating his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.
However, prosecutors argued that the use of a pillow and tilting the execution gurney would 'minimise the pain Plaintiff experiences when he lies on his back'.
Two weeks ago, Atwood failed to choose between lethal injection or the gas chamber, leaving him to be put to death by lethal injection, the state's default execution method, at 10.16 am local time (6.16 pm GMT), Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.
ABC News reported that Atwood was accompanied through the process of being prepared for the lethal injection by a priest.
Although, he had claimed innocence throughout his sentence, he did not address the killing with his last words, witnesses said in a news conference.
It marks the state’s second execution in less than a month after Clarence Dixon's in May ended the southwestern state's eight-year hiatus.
Arizona had put executions on hiatus after the botched lethal injection of Joseph Wood in 2014, when a process that should have taken 10 minutes lasted almost two hours.
Vicki Lynne Hoskinson's body was found in the desert nearly seven months after she was last seen leaving her home in Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona, on a bicycle to drop a birthday card in a nearby postbox in 1984.
Authorities claimed that Atwood kidnapped Vicki while experts could not determine the cause of death from the remains, according to court records. He was convicted of her murder in 1987.
Friends and neighbours of the Hoskinson family showed their support outside the prison to remember Vicki Lynne in light of Atwood’s execution.
Stacy Davis, a childhood friend of Vicki Lynne, told AZ Central: “I feel like it will be a part of a closure for my childhood.”
Meanwhile, Vicki Lynne’s mother attended Atwood's clemency hearing in May and said his execution would bring justice to their family.
Debbie Carlson said: "We chose the death penalty because we never wanted another child to have to be faced by this monster.
"We wanted to make sure another family was spared and not have to live what we have lived for the last 37-and-a-half years."Featured Image Credit: Alamy