Maricopa County Attorney Argues Gov. Hobbs Cannot Ignore Death Penalty Warrant

death row
(Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry)

On Monday, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed motions with the Arizona Supreme Court opposing Gov. Katie Hobbs’ decision to not carry out an execution warrant. The warrant was issued by the Arizona Supreme Court.

“As County Attorney, I took an oath to uphold the US Constitution and the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona,” said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. “These recognize that both the victim and the accused have rights. Our brief recognizes and supports the right of victims to a “prompt and final conclusion of the case.” It also gives the defendant notice of the recent US Supreme Court decision, even though we do not believe it applies in his case. What is not at issue is what the sentence is for his crime.”

Gov. Katie Hobbs claims the state won’t carry out new execution warrants, arguing the warrants only “authorize” executions but “does not require it.”

In January, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes filed a motion in the Arizona Supreme Court to withdraw a motion previously filed by the State for a warrant of execution of Aaron Brian Gunches.

The Arizona Supreme Court issued a warrant to execute Aaron Gunches on April 6 for the 2002 murder of Ted Price.

In 2003, Gunches was pulled over by the Arizona Department of Public Safety near the California border and shot a trooper twice. The trooper survived and bullet casings from the shooting scene matched the ones found near Price’s body. Gunches then pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing Price and to the attempted murder of the DPS trooper.

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