Frank Atwood, imprisoned on death row since 1987 for the killing of an eight-year-old girl, is scheduled to be executed on June 8 in Arizona’s gas chamber.
The state has two methods of killing: lethal injection or the gas chamber (which was outlawed in 1992, but since Atwood’s conviction occurred before that date, he can choose death by gas), but the only option for gas is cyanide.
AZ Central reports that Atwood is requesting nitrogen gas instead of the cyanide specified in the Department of Corrections execution protocol. According to his attorney, he would die of asphyxiation with cyanide. The last time the state used cyanide was in the 1999 execution of Walter LaGrand, and witnesses testified he died an “agonizing” death that lasted 18 minutes.
Like Dixon, who was executed less than a month ago by Arizona, Atwood is 66 years old and in poor health. His lawyers say he is in a wheelchair and suffers from a spinal condition.