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Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell asks for warrant to execute death row inmate

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(The Center Square) – Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell is asking the Arizona Supreme Court to issue a warrant to execute death row inmate Aaron Gunches.

Gunches was scheduled to be executed in April 2023, but it did not go through after Gov. Katie Hobbs ordered a review of death penalty practices in the state. He was convicted in the murder Ted Price in 2002, and he was sentenced to capital punishment in 2008.

“There is no legal basis to delay this any longer,” Mitchell said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Ted Price’s family and friends have waited for two decades to see justice and find closure.”

However, Attorney General Kris Mayes wrote in a letter to Mitchell in May the that death penalty could resume in Arizona in early 2025, The Center Square reported.

“To that end, I intend to begin seeking warrants no later than the first quarter of 2025, so long as ADCRR is capable of carrying out a lawful execution at that time,” she stated. “By then, I anticipate that Judge Duncan will have completed his independent review and that ADCRR will have had sufficient time to make any appropriate improvements to their procedures for carrying out the death penalty.”

Mitchell fired back at the time, saying that “victims and the community have waited long enough for the execution warrant process to begin on the Aaron Gunches matter” and wants executions to continue sooner.

The move to have an independent review commissioner was to investigate the “lethal injection drug and gas chamber chemical procurement process, execution protocols, and staffing considerations including training and experience,” the Executive Order from Jan. 20 states.

Male death row prisoners, which make up 109 of the 112 in Arizona, are located at the prison in Florence, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry.

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