Frank Atwood: Here's what you need to know, as Arizona is scheduled to execute another murder convict

Arizona's Supreme Court has, in the span of about a month, issued two Warrants of Execution for men who have been behind bars for decades.

The execution of Frank Atwood, which is set to take place on June 8, will mark the second execution of a death row inmate in Arizona following a years-long pause that began in 2014.

Here's what you should know about Atwood's upcoming execution.

Who is Frank Atwood?

Atwood has a lengthy criminal history against children, but the case that sent him to death row happened in 1984.

Atwood, according to ADCRR's website, was convicted of kidnapping and killing an 8-year-old girl named Vicki Lynn Hoskinson in September 1984.

At the time Hoskinson was kidnaped, she was going to mail a birthday card to her aunt. Detectives later determined that Atwood was the person who kidnaped and killed Hoskinson.

Witnesses put Atwood at the scene, and police say they found traces of pink paint from Hoskinson's bike on Atwood's car.

Atwood, according to officials with ADCRR, left Hoskinson's body in the desert, and fled to Texas, where he was later arrested. Hoskinson's body was discovered in April 1985.

At the time of the crime, Atwood was already in violation of his California parole when he went to Tucson. He had previously been convicted of lewd acts and kidnapping against an 8-year-old boy.

How will Arizona carry out the execution?

Just like Clarence Dixon, Atwood can choose to be executed via lethal injection or lethal gas.

According to the execution warrant for Atwood, he has until May 20, or 20 days prior to his designated date of execution, to choose between being executed via lethal injection or lethal gas. If he does not choose a method of execution, he too will be executed via lethal injection.

What happened that led to the years-long pause in executions?

When Arizona officials executed a man named Joseph Wood in July 2014, Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours.

According to ADCRR's website, Wood shot and killed a 55-year-old man and his 29-year-old ex-girlfriend in 1989.

Wood's lawyers claim his execution was botched. FOX 10's Troy Hayden, who witnessed Wood's execution, said Wood moved on the table and appeared to gulp for air for almost two hours.

Wood's lawyers claim his execution was botched. FOX 10's Troy Hayden, who witnessed Wood's execution, said Wood moved on the table and appeared to gulp for air for almost two hours.

What happened since Wood's execution?

It has been reported that states have found it increasingly difficult to secure lethal injection drugs.

Due to protests and lawsuits, the companies that made reliable death penalty drugs stopped selling them to prisons, which forced states to rely on drugs that weren’t as proven with sometimes uneven results.

A 2017 settlement over Arizona’s death penalty protocol said the state will only use chemicals in an execution with an expiration date that is after the date of the scheduled execution. While seeking the executions of Dixon and another death row inmate named Frank Atwood, prosecutors had said the shelf life of the drug to be used was 45 days, which was half as long as they previously thought.

In a document we obtained, it shows that in late 2020, the Arizona Department of Corrections paid $1.5 million for about 100 doses of precursors of the most reliable death penalty drug, Pentobarbital, the same drug many veterinarians use to put pets to sleep.

Earlier in the year, the state resumed its efforts to move forward with their executions, and said it had done specialized testing and determined the shelf life of the drug to be at least 90 days.

In March 2021, officials with the ADCRR say they are ready to start executions again.

What are people saying about Atwood's impending execution?

Atwood's lawyer

On May 3, Atwood's lawyer, Joseph Perkovich, said the ADCRR presented false choices to Atwood, and said Atwood is disabled, having been wheelchair-bound for many years.

"On the one hand is lethal injection, for which the Department is unprepared to proceed and, due to Mr. Atwood’s severe spinal condition, would inflict maximum pain throughout the process. On the other hand is cyanide gas, used by Nazi Germany to exterminate millions in the Holocaust," read a portion of Perkovich's statement. "By designating cyanide gas, the Department is cynically forcing Mr. Atwood to accept the torture of a lethal injection, playing out a version of the grim fate that befell the last person subjected to that method in Arizona, who was strapped to the execution table for over two hours, hopelessly gasping for air over 600 times."

Hoskinson's mother

"He's close to being executed, and he's trying to pull everything he can out of a hat to prolong it and delay it," said Hoskinson's mother, Debbie Carlson, in 2013. "A jury of 12 of his peers found him guilty, and he was sentenced to death. He needs to be a man and face that."

On May 5, we spoke with Carlson once again, days after Atwood's death warrant was issued.

"My first reaction was ‘Hallejuah. Finally,'" said Carlson. "Justice delayed is justice denied, and I didn’t want justice for Vicki to be denied. It had been delayed for 37-and-a-half years, so it’s time."

In the years since Hoskinson was killed, her family has carried her memory and grief with them, waiting to see the conclusion of the case. Now, they finally have an end date.

"It will be the beginning of a different chapter, and it will not be with him there. No more," said Carlson. "We’re looking forward to that. I’m 67 years old, and most of my life has been around this case."

Hoskinson's family is planning to be at Atwood’s execution.

"We need to see the justice for her," said Carlson. "Whatever comes with it, we will have to deal with, and then move forward because it will be left behind. We look forward to the day we will be reunited with her."

What are opinion polls saying when it comes to the death penalty?

Figures from the Gallup Poll show Americans are in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder, with the most recent poll, taken in October 2021, showing that 54% of those surveyed are in favor. In addition, a Gallup Poll in May 2021 found that 55% of those surveyed believe that the death penalty is morally acceptable.

However, figures from an October 2019 Gallup Poll found that when people can choose between the death penalty and life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for murder, 60% find life imprisonment to be a better penalty for murder.

How many people are on Arizona's death row?

According to figures from ADCRR, 112 prisoners are on Arizona's death row.

Of the 112 prisoners, an overwhelming majority of them (109) are men, with only three women: Wendi Andriano, Shawna Forde, and Sammantha Uriarte.

Read More: Only 3 women are on Arizona’s death row: Who are they and what were they sentenced to death for?

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.