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Death row clemency petition fails for Navajo inmate

GALLUP

Clarence Dixon’s request to commute his scheduled execution was denied.

Dixon presented his case Thursday to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency, asking the board and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, said Amanda Bass, who is representing him.

Dixon is scheduled to be executed on May 11.

Courtesy of Arizona Department of Corrections
Clarence Dixon

Dixon was convicted and sentenced to death for a 1978 sexual assault and murder of an Arizona State University student. His attorneys argue that he has a severe mental illness and is incompetent to be executed.

On Tuesday, Bass said they would file with the Pinal County Superior Court in Florence, Arizona.

“We will present additional evidence of his severe mental illness and incompetency to be executed at his competency hearing in the Pinal County Superior Court,” Bass said.

Bass did not say what time Dixon’s competency hearing would be.

In June last year, Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul wrote a letter to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, asking his office to consider the tribe’s traditional beliefs and its stance against the death penalty.

McPaul wrote the tribe’s culture and religion held life “sacred.”

“The death penalty removes the possibility of restoring harmony whereas a life sentence holds the opportunity to reestablish harmony and find balance in our world,” McPaul wrote to Brnovich.

Attorneys for Dixon say in addition to his severe mental illness, he is legally blind.

Lenny Foster, the former director of the Navajo Corrections Project, said he became acquainted with Dixon in 1988 at Dixon State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona.

Foster said Dixon has been facing the death penalty for 18-19 years and said, “It has to be a very hard psychological struggle for him.”


About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at dq@navajotimes.com.

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