This post will be updated as details become available.
Today in Arizona barring any last minute stays, Samuel Lopez, one of three brothers facing a death sentence, will be executed for the murder of Estefana Holmes in central Phoenix in 1986. Lopez is scheduled to be executed at 10 a.m. local time.
Lopez has exhausted all his appeals, after the state and U.S. Supreme Court both denied him a stay. He was also denied a commutation by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency after a hearing that saw impassioned arguments both for and against clemency.
“He didn’t just murder Essie, he murdered our family,” said Denise Evans, Holmes’s daughter-in-law, saying that her devastated husband drank himself to death after her killing, according to a story in The Arizona Republic.
According to that same news report, Lopez’s attorney “told the board that because of poor lawyering, no court had heard the full story of Lopez’s poor and brutal upbringing, or of how his childhood abuse of various substances, as an escape, had left him mentally impaired. Neuropsychiatrist George Wood, describing that upbringing in clinical detail, said Lopez and his siblings essentially were brought up as ‘feral children.’ He noted that two of Lopez’s brothers also faced the death penalty for their own crimes.
That background and impairment should have mitigated his sentence to life without parole, Henry said. Inevitably, when the death penalty is imposed ‘it’s not for the worst crime, it’s for the worst lawyer,’ she said.”
However, the board ultimately declined to commute his sentence. His attorney has said there will be no more efforts to stop the execution.
The execution will mark the first time witnessess will be allowed to watch, via closed-circuit television, as the IVs are inserted into the inmate’s veins. From The Arizona Republic:
“Attorneys for inmates in prior executions condemned the practice of inserting catheters into the prisoners’ groins. Officials said the executioners had found it difficult to find suitable veins in the arms and legs.
In earlier executions, witnesses only saw the prisoner after the catheters had been inserted.”