"Today marks final justice for our daughter Vicki Lynne," mother Debbie Carlson said Wednesday after Frank Atwood was executed by lethal injection for the 1984 murder of the 8-year-old Arizona girl. The US Supreme Court denied the 66-year-old's request for a stay of execution Wednesday morning and he was pronounced dead at 10:10am local time, six minutes after he was sedated, the Arizona Republic reports. In his final statement, he thanked his wife, friends, legal team, "and most of all, Jesus Christ through this unfair judicial process that led to my salvation."
Authorities say Vicki's body was found in the desert almost seven months after she was kidnapped. Experts were unable to determine the cause of death. Atwood was convicted of murder in 1987. "Our family has waited 37 years, eight months and 22 days for this day to come," Carlson said after the execution. "Vicki was a vibrant little girl with an infectious laugh and a smile that would melt your heart." After a hiatus of nearly eight years, Atwood is the second inmate Arizona has executed in less than a month, the AP reports. Clarence Dixon was executed May 11 for the murder of Arizona State University student Deana Bowdoin.
Atwood was offered the choice of being executed in the state's newly refurbished gas chamber or by lethal injection. The latter option, the default method, was used after he declined to choose. In legal filings seeking to delay the execution, Atwood's lawyers said execution by either method would cause excruciating pain because he has a spinal condition, but witnesses said the execution went smoothly, the AP reports. Atwood converted to the Greek Orthodox faith while incarcerated and the state agreed to change protocols to allow his priest to remain in the execution room with him. (Read more Arizona stories.)