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AZ Prosecutor, Crime Victims Ask Court To Order Killer's Execution

The Arizona Supreme Court is fast-tracking a decision on whether to order Gov. Katie Hobbs to carry out the execution of a murder convict. Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell joined a crime victims' rights group in asking the high court to compel Hobbs to enforce the death penalty against Aaron Gunches, 12 News reports. "No law allows the governor to unilaterally suspend executions," Mitchell's brief said. A Hobbs spokeswoman said the governor's office is reviewing the filing and couldn't comment further. The Republican county prosecutor said she "supports the right of victims to a prompt and final conclusion of the case." The Mitchell brief supports the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims' petition for special action by the high court, filed on behalf of Karen Price, sister of Gunches' victim, Ted Price. 

Two weeks ago, Hobbs said the state wouldn't proceed with executions until her office's review of death-penalty procedures was complete. The state Supreme Court had issued an execution warrant for Gunches with a date of April 6. Gunches pleaded guilty in 2004 to first-degree murder and kidnapping in the 2002 killing of Price, his girlfriend’s former husband. Price's body was found in a desert area off the Beeline Highway in December 2002. He had been shot  several times. Arizona executions were put on hold in January after Hobbs, a first-term Democrat, issued an executive order establishing a death penalty review commission. She cited questions about the Department of Corrections execution protocols and lack of transparency. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said, "The narrow question before this court is whether the criteria for issuing a warrant that authorizes the execution of appellant Aaron Brian Gunches, set forth in statute and this court’s rules, are satisfied."


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