Arizona Supreme Court Rules Arizona Governor Not Required To Carry Out Execution
On Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that state law does not have to require Gov. Katie Hobbs to carry out the execution of a prisoner who is scheduled to be put to death on April 6.
Governor Hobbs, Democrat, declared two weeks ago that she would not carry out the court’s order to execute Aaron Brian Gunches on April 6, stating the review of death penalty protocols. She feels Arizona has mismanaged previous executions and that the state is violating constitutional rights when it enforces the death penalty.
Gunches has been on death row in the Arizona State Prison in Florence for the conviction in the shooting death of Ted Price, his girlfriend’s ex-husband, near Mesa, Arizona in 2002.
Hobbs lawyers claim that the state lacks staff that is properly trained and has expertise to carry out the sentence and currently does not have a contract right now for a pharmacist to compound the pentobarbital necessary for an execution.
In addition, Hobbs has stated that the top corrections leadership position critical to planning executions is not filled.
Karen Price, the sister of the victim had asked the court to order Hobbs to carry out the execution to serve as justice for her brother’s death.
In November, Gunches represented himself when he asked the Supreme Court to issue his execution warrant so that, as he said, so justice could be served and the victim’s families could receive the necessary closure. In Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s last month in office, he asked the court for a warrant to execute Gunches.
In a turn of events in January, after the newly elected Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes took office, Gunches withdrew his request and asked for the warrant to be withdrawn.
The state Supreme Court initially rejected Mayes’ withdrawal request, claiming that it must grant an execution warrant when certain appellate proceedings have concluded and all of those requirements were met in Gunches’ case.
In another added layer to the circumstances, Gunches recently stated that he still wishes to be executed but asked to be transferred to Texas, where, he wrote, “the law is still followed and inmates can still get their sentences carried out.”
Arizona’s high court has denied the transfer request.
Arizona currently has 110 prisoners on death row and has carried out three executions in 2022, after an eight-year hiatus of executions.