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Convicted Killer Proclaimed Innocence, Mocked Medical Staff Before Execution

Clarence Dixon told the medical staff that they "worshipped death" as they struggled to put him to death for the 1978 murder of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.

A police handout of Clarence Dixon

A convicted killer did not mince words as Arizona put him to death in the first execution committed by the state in almost eight years.

Clarence Dixon, 66, was executed on Wednesday morning with lethal injection.

"I do and always will proclaim my innocence — now let's do this s---," Dixon said before his execution, Deputy Corrections Director Frank Strada told Arizona Central.

Dixon was convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting and killing 21-year-old Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin in 1978, CNN reports, after DNA linked him to the crime in 2001. He was already serving a life sentence for a 1986 sexual assault when he was convicted in Bowdoin’s death.

Just two days before Bowdoin's murder, Dixon had been released from custody after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for hitting a stranger with a metal pipe the year before, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, and was awaiting a civil commitment. He was diagnosed with severe depression and schizophrenia after his arrest in that case, Slate reports

Dixon's lawyers had made multiple efforts to delay the execution, arguing that he is blind and has a history of severe mental health problems. However, in late April, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency unanimously denied his petition for commutation or reprieve of his sentence, KNXV reported. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona denied a motion for the stay of his execution on Tuesday and a day later, the U.S. Supreme Court also denied an application for a stay of execution.

Troy Hayden, a media witness from Fox News, told Arizona Central that Dixon was defiant as the execution team struggled to inject him on Wednesday.

He told the medical team that "they worshipped death" while mocking them. Hayden stated that Dixon also directly addressed Bowdoin, telling her that she knew he didn’t kill her.

It reportedly took execution team members nearly half an hour to insert IVs into Dixon's body. After much struggle, they ended up making an incision into Dixon’s groin, where they inserted the fatal IV.

Bowdoin's sister Leslie James, who was present for the execution, told CNN, "He made choices and therefore I'm not even going to waste any more breath or words on him."

Dixon's execution marked the first in Arizona since the painful 2014 execution of Joseph Wood, which took two hours.

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