PHOENIX – Today, the Arizona Attorney General's office filed in the Arizona Supreme Court a motion to withdraw a motion previously filed by the State for a warrant of execution of Aaron Brian Gunches. The State requested the warrant of execution only after and because Mr. Gunches initiated the now-pending proceedings with his own motion requesting execution on November 25, 2022. In a January 4, 2023 filing, Mr. Gunches reversed his decision and requested his motion be withdrawn.
"My predecessor's administration sought a warrant of execution for Mr. Gunches after he initiated the proceedings himself. These circumstances have now changed. However, that is not the only reason I am now requesting the previous motion be withdrawn," said Attorney General Kris Mayes. "A thorough review of Arizona's protocols and processes governing capital punishment is needed. I applaud Governor Hobbs for establishing a Death Penalty Independent Review Commissioner to begin that process.”
The review will include, among other things, the State's procurement of drugs and chemicals used in lethal injection and gas chamber executions, ADCRR procedures and protocols for conducting executions – including transparency and media access, access to legal counsel for the inmate, contingency planning and staff training.
Arizona is not alone in ordering such a review. Similar reviews have been ordered by officials from both parties around the country, and at least one such review recently revealed numerous problems, including failures to follow execution protocols. A review at the federal level is also underway.
“If Arizona is going to execute individuals, it should have a system for doing so that is transparent, accountable, and faithful to our Constitution and the rule of law,” continued Attorney General Mayes. "I look forward to working with the Governor, the newly established commissioner, and others to ensure the public's confidence in Arizona's capital punishment system."
Arizona resumed executions in 2022 after an eight-year pause was triggered by the botched execution of Joseph Wood.
Motion to Withdraw Motion for Warrant of Execution.
COS Motion to Withdraw Motion for Warrant of Execution.
Exhibit to Motion to Withdraw.