Frank Atwood Case Update: Atwood Petitions Arizona Supreme Court for New Trial; Atwood to Ask Ninth Circuit for Rehearing on Execution Methods

Posted by emily on June 07, 2022
Execution News, News, What's New

Atwood asked the Arizona Supreme Court to review a post-conviction relief petition based on evidence of his innocence, prosecutorial wrongdoing after the Pima County Superior Court denied his post-conviction relief petition

Atwood will ask the Ninth Circuit for a rehearing, following a Ninth Circuit panel’s denial of a preliminary injunction to halt Atwood’s execution related to Arizona’s execution methods

PHOENIX—Attorneys for Frank Atwood today filed a motion with the Arizona Supreme Court asking the Court to review the Pima County Superior Court’s denial of his petition to vacate his conviction and give him a new trial. If the Arizona Supreme Court were to grant review, Mr. Atwood would be able to present evidence of his innocence and that the state withheld evidence implicating an alternate suspect, ultimately stopping his execution, which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

The petition filed with the Arizona Supreme Court comes a day after attorneys for Mr. Atwood delivered oral arguments before a panel of judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, urging the panel to issue a preliminary injunction to halt Mr. Atwood’s execution and compel Arizona to designate a constitutional execution method. The panel denied the request for a preliminary injunction.

See below for statements on both legal challenges.


To be attributed to said Sam Kooistra, counsel for Mr. Atwood:

“We hope the Court intervenes before Arizona executes an innocent man who was convicted in a case haunted by the specter of prosecutorial wrongdoing and an alternate suspect.”

Mr. Atwood has always maintained his innocence but was convicted in a case that lacked hard physical evidence or eyewitnesses. The FBI, which thoroughly inspected Mr. Atwood’s car, failed to find blood, hair, soil, fingerprints or other physical evidence connecting the victim to the inside of the car, which was supposedly used to transport the victim. There were also no eyewitnesses to the abduction. However, several eyewitnesses came forward and pointed police in the direction of another suspect. On the evening of the victim’s disappearance, multiple witnesses spotted the victim, accurately describing her and her distinctive clothing, at the Tucson Mall. According to witnesses, the victim appeared distressed and in the control of an unknown woman. Mr. Atwood’s whereabouts were accounted for during the time of these eyewitness sightings and the timeline police proposed for Mr. Atwood’s alleged actions that day is simply not possible.

Moreover, when police received a highly credible tip linking a third suspect to the victim’s disappearance, the State failed to share that information with Mr. Atwood’s attorney, in direct violation of Mr. Atwood’s right to due process and the prosecution’s corresponding duties under Brady v. Maryland.


To be attributed to Joseph Perkovich, counsel for Mr. Atwood:

“A panel of the Ninth Circuit has denied a stay of execution despite grave, persisting problems with the lethal injection method that will be used on Mr. Atwood, a method that, with all that has been evidenced, without refutation from the State, will intentionally inflict extreme pain for what will likely be an hour before, in the best-case scenario, he succumbs to the execution chemicals.

“The panel has also reasoned that because Mr. Atwood failed to designate hydrogen cyanide gas as his choice of execution method, he cannot legally challenge it. The panel ignores the Supreme Court law that, in no uncertain terms, categorically prohibits a legal challenge of a chosen method. Mr. Atwood brought a legal challenge to Arizona’s hydrogen cyanide gas when he was under the execution warrant and the constitutionality of that odious method was in question for him.

“Mr. Atwood will seek rehearing en banc to afford the Ninth Circuit an opportunity to remedy the egregious Catch 22 that the panel determined it had no recourse but to countenance.”


Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a comment


You must be logged in to post a comment.