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Arizona clemency board won’t stop execution

Arizona’s clemency board has turned down a death-row inmate’s request that his sentence be commuted to life in prison or that his scheduled execution be delayed.

The five-member board voted unanimously Thursday against the requests of Eric John King after emotional testimony from his son and victims’ family members.

The hearing was held at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, and King attended. He was kept in a locked metal area in the hearing room.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Linda Isanovic, daughter of victim Richard Butts.

“I don’t want my dad to die,” said Eric Harrison, the 20-year-old son of King. “I’m just angry that people would want to kill someone without all the details. That’s not justice.”

King, 47, is set to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday. He was convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk and a security guard in a 1989 robbery that netted $72, and is making a last-ditch effort to escape the death penalty. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

The Arizona Supreme Court denied two motions by King seeking to put his execution on hold last week, and it rejected a petition to review his case. One additional request for reconsideration is pending at the trial court.

Attorney Michael Burke argues that the two key witnesses who testified against King at his 1989 trial have changed their stories, that no physical evidence exists, and that surveillance video used at trial was of extremely poor quality.

King was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of a clerk and security guard at the Short Stop Market in Phoenix.

Michael Page Jones, who also was arrested in the killings and faced the death penalty, was set free after he testified against King, saying he saw King holding a gun at the market at the time of the shooting.

But in March after a defense attorney tracked him down, Jones signed a declaration saying he was so drunk the night of the shooting that he has no memory of the crime.

The other key witness was Naquita Renee Hill, Jones’ girlfriend. Defense attorneys say Hill was the only other witness to implicate King at the trial, and that her testimony was “highly suspect.”

Burke said in a court filing that Hill identified King as the man in a security camera photograph because she hoped to get $1,000 in reward money. “Given that she was also pregnant with twins by Jones, she clearly had further motive to implicate someone else in the crimes,” Burke wrote.

Hill has since said she is not sure whether King is the same man depicted in the security camera photograph.

Assistant Attorney General Kent Cattani said he’s confident that King’s execution will be held without delay.

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