Two Executions Set for Today

Today, barring any last-minute stays, there will be not one, but two executions taking place.

First, at 12 p.m. EST Arizona will executed Robert Moorman for the 1984 murder and dismemberment of his adoptive mother. Moorman was denied clemency earlier this week by both the Arizona Supreme Court and a federal court.

From the Tucson Citizen:

“On Jan. 12, 1984, while on a furlough from prison, Moormann tied his 74-year-old mother to a bed in the Blue Mist Motel in Florence, beat her and then suffocated her with a pillow. Then, he meticulously cut her body into pieces and distributed the parts to garbage cans behind local businesses.

The crime-scene photos are ghastly: Maude’s head being lifted out of a garbage bag, her feet lying on a table like cobbler’s forms, her bones in a bloody box.

More shocking: Moormann, his lawyers and mental-health evaluators say the murder came after years of abuse in which Maude Moormann made her adoptive son perform sex acts and even arranged his prison furloughs to that end…

…By every account, Moormann’s life has been a nightmare.

He was born Bobby Conger in Tucson on June 4, 1948, to a 15-year-old girl who drank heavily and engaged in prostitution, according to court records and testimony at Moormann’s clemency hearing. The baby’s father abandoned his new family, and the mother died in an accident at age 17, so baby Bobby went to live with his maternal grandparents until he was put up for adoption because of his grandfather’s alcohol abuse.

After stays in foster homes, he was adopted by a Flagstaff couple, Henry and Roberta Maude Moormann, when he was 2 and a half. Henry Moormann owned a taxicab company, and after he died, his wife remained single and raised their adopted son Robert, and, according to testimony at the clemency hearing, forced him to engage in sexual acts with her.

Moormann was classified as mentally retarded while in public school and attended special-education classes. His first stay in a state mental hospital occurred when he was 13 after he accidentally shot his mother. During his clemency hearing, Moormann said he was hiding a .22-caliber rifle in his bed. His mother came into his room and sat on the bed, and when he pulled the gun out to show her, it discharged.”

Moorman’s execution has been a source of complications for the Arizona Dept. of Corrections, who found out less than 48 hours before Moormann’s scheduled execution  that one of the drugs they had planned to use expired last month and is no longer available.

They then notified Moormann and his attorneys that he would be executed with just one drug, pentobarbital.

The late notice violates the department’s new written execution protocol.

Such last minute changes caused a federal appeals court panel to issue a strong warning on Tuesday to Arizona officials who have continuously violated and changed their own written protocol for executing state death-row inmates.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco turned down a request to delay two upcoming executions–that of Robert Henry Moormann on Wednesday and of Robert Charles Towery eight days later on March 8.

While the judges declined to delay the executions, they wrote that Arizona has forced the court “to engage in serious constitutional questions and complicated factual issues in the waning hours before executions.”

“This approach cannot continue,” the panel wrote. “We are mindful of the admonition requiring us to refrain from micro-managing each individual execution, but the admonition has a breaking point.”

And unless Arizona officials make permanent changes, the judges wrote that the court might have to start monitoring each individual execution in the state to make sure the law is followed.

*****

Meanwhile in Texas, George Rivas will be executed at 6 p.m. CST in Huntsville for organizing the largest-ever jailbreak from a Texas prison and then killing a suburban Dallas police officer while a fugitive with six others who escaped with him.

Rivas was the first of his prison-break gang, which became known as the “Texas 7,” to be tried for the fatal shooting of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve of 2000. All of the inmates received death sentences for the killing.

With his appeals exhausted, Rivas has seen his request for clemency rejected by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. He’s acknowledged he’s ready to die for the killing.

In an exclusive jailhouse interview Rivas granted to Star-Telegram reporter Darren Barbee, he said “It’s bittersweet. Bitter because I hurt for my family, for them. Sweet because it’s almost over.”

Read more about Robert Moorman:
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