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Arizona Man Executed For 8-Year-Old’s 1984 Kidnapping, Murder
Vicki Lynne Hoskinson was just 8 years-old in 1984 when she was snatched off her bicycle in Tucson, Arizona by Frank Atwood, who killed her and dumped her body in the desert. On Wednesday, he was put to death for the crime.
An Arizona man has been put to death by lethal injection for the abduction and murder of an 8-year-old girl more than three decades ago.
Frank Atwood, 66, was executed at 10:16 a.m. on Wednesday at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Arizona, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his eleventh-hour appeal attempts, according to court documents, officials, and state prison records. He had been convicted in the 1984 murder of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson.
Hoskinson was abducted by Atwood on Sept. 17, 1984, after riding her bicycle home from mailing a birthday card to her aunt, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Atwood later dumped the 8-year-old’s lifeless body in the desert and fled to Texas, prosecutors said. In 1985, a hiker found the little girl’s remains near Tucson, Arizona.
“Today, Arizona carried out another execution of an inmate sentenced to death nearly 35 years ago,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement on Twitter on June 8. “To an innocent child whose life was brutally taken and a family that has had to endure decades of suffering, Arizonans will never forget.”
Atwood had multiple convictions in California related to lewd and lascivious acts, as well as kidnapping of two minors prior to the murder, officials said. In May 1984, however, he was paroled by the state of California on his kidnapping sentence; he traveled to Tucson months later, effectively violating his post-release conditions.
Days after arriving there, investigators say Atwood “snatched” Hoskinson from the neighborhood near her home and ultimately killed her.
“One of the most sacred duties of public servants is to provide a voice for people who are unable to effectively speak for themselves,” Brnovich also said on Twitter. “Today, Arizona spoke on behalf of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson.”
Atwood’s execution was ordered by the state’s attorney general in January.
"Capital punishment is the appropriate response to those who commit the most shocking and vile murders because it ensures the last word still belongs to the innocent victims who can no longer speak for themselves," Brnovich also previously said. “I am very proud of the hard work that our legal team has put in to make sure that justice is done in this case from our trial prosecutors to our appellate division to make sure that this execution is carried out and justice is served.”
The condemned Arizona man’s lawyers, however, who previously described the case against Atwood as “shaky,” blasting the the state’s evidence as “fundamentally unfair and unreliable,” according to additional court filings obtained by Oxygen.com. They also accused prosecutors of withholding a prominent evidence that could have exonerated Atwood — and “cemented the case against a third-party suspect.”
Atwood’s legal defense team had also countered that lethal injection was an unconstitutional method of capital punishment, insisting a prior spine condition the 66-year-old suffered from would exacerbate the pain experienced during his execution.
Atwood had a lengthy criminal record stretching back to 1989 and was convicted of 44 separate disciplinary infractions while incarcerated, according to online state prison records obtained by Oxygen.com, including physical assault, disorderly conduct, indecent exposure and numerous other counts.
There are currently approximately 111 inmates on Arizona’s death row, according to state officials. As many as 22 of them have exhausted their appeals. Atwood’s execution was the second in the state in under a month. On May 11, 66-year-old Clarence Dixon was put to death for the 1978 rape and killing of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.