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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is being criticized by a victim’s sister and a powerful county prosecutor for her plans to defy a court order to execute a prisoner next month for his conviction in a 2002 killing.
The newly elected Democratic governor vowed nearly two weeks ago that she wouldn’t carry out the Arizona Supreme Court’s order to execute Aaron Gunches on April 6, citing a review that she has ordered of death penalty protocols due to Arizona’s history of mismanaging executions.
Hobbs has said executions will not be carried out until Arizonans can be confident the state isn’t violating the law. She maintains that while the court authorized Gunches’ execution, its order doesn’t require the state to carry it out.
Over the last several days, lawyers for Karen Price, whose brother Ted Price was the victim in Gunches’ case, and Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell have told the state’s highest court that Hobbs doesn’t have the legal authority to disregard the order.
In a statement, Karen Price said the relief her family felt when the court scheduled Gunches’ execution was dashed by Hobbs’ announcement.
“Not only has our family been victimized by inmate Gunches and the emotional aftermath of Ted’s murder, we are now being victimized by the governor’s failure to recognize and uphold our constitutional rights to justice and finality,” Price said.
Nicholas Klingerman, an attorney representing Mitchell, said no constitutional violations have been found with the state’s execution protocols and that carrying out execution warrants isn’t optional for the governor.
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