Top 10 Famous Arizona Executions | Phoenix New Times

Top 10 Famous Arizona Executions

Arizona has carried out some of the most high-profile, newsworthy or just plain messed-up executions in the country.
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Arizona has carried out some of the most high-profile, newsworthy or just plain messed-up executions in the country.

With the combination of Wild West, big-city Southwest, a conservative penchant for capital punishment and a dash of incompetence, Arizona's death-penalty history is more interesting than most.

Take our quick trip to the end:

10.) Starr Daley, a.k.a. Van Ashmore

The rapist and murderer thought Arizona didn't have a death penalty in 1917 — he forgot about "citizen initiative."

9.) Robert "Gypsy" Comer

Comer was "Arizona's Worst Criminal" until being put to death in 2007 by lethal injection, and he also had the weirdest last words: "Go Raiders."

8.) Demetrio Dominguez

The first person legally executed in Maricopa County was a Mexican who admitted he took part in a violent stagecoach robbery.

7.) John Heath and five other participants of the "Bisbee Massacre"

Four of the five suspects hanged choked to death in the gallows instead of having their necks properly broken. A sixth suspect, pictured here, was lynched.

6.) George Smiley

Navajo County Sheriff Frank Wattron's invitation to Smiley's hanging said the event would be "cheerful," ticking off President William McKinley.

5.) Robert Jones

The remorseless Jones killed six people in cold blood during robberies, then joked with his jailers 17 years later before his peaceful death.

4.) Jimmy Wayne Jeffers

Girlfriend-killer Jeffers didn't go peacefully into the good night: Before being injected, he yelled obscenities and reportedly died while giving his captors the finger.

3.) Eva Dugan

Dugan's head came clean off her body as she was hanged. Okay, it wasn't that clean.

2.) Donald Harding

Arizona figured gassing people would be less gruesome than watching botched hangings, but Harding's 11-minute choking routine disproved that idea.

1.) Joseph Wood

A teenager working a summer job at the dog pound could have done a better job putting down Joseph Wood last year — he took more than two hours to die.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.

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