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'A fairly bleak and empty life'

Killer asks jury to consider his imprisonment as it mulls death penalty or life in prison

 by Andre Radzischewski
 published on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

<b>GUILTY:</b> Clarence Dixon pleads his case during sentencing in front of the jury responsible for determining whether he lives or dies, after being found guilty for the 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin.  Tempe Police Detective Tom Magazzeni solved the 30-year-old cold case, and jurors deliberate this week over whether he will serve another life sentence or receive the death penalty for his crime./issues/news/703212
Bettina Hansen / THE STATE PRESS
GUILTY: Clarence Dixon pleads his case during sentencing in front of the jury responsible for determining whether he lives or dies, after being found guilty for the 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin. Tempe Police Detective Tom Magazzeni solved the 30-year-old cold case, and jurors deliberate this week over whether he will serve another life sentence or receive the death penalty for his crime.
 
<b>JUSTICE:</b> Clarence Dixon waits to address the jury during sentencing./issues/news/703212
Bettina Hansen / THE STATE PRESS
JUSTICE: Clarence Dixon waits to address the jury during sentencing.
 

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Twelve Maricopa Superior Court jurors are deciding Wednesday whether Clarence Wayne Dixon will be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison for the 1978 rape and murder of ASU senior Deana Bowdoin.

As Dixon's trial moved into its critical mitigation phase Tuesday, jurors heard opening arguments from the prosecuting attorney and Dixon, who chose to represent himself.

Speaking in a low voice and at times mumbling, Dixon who is currently serving seven consecutive life sentences for unrelated crimes he committed at Northern Arizona University said his imprisonment of more than 20 years should be considered a mitigating factor.

"Although I'm not a model prisoner, I'm not a violent prisoner," Dixon said. "It's a fairly bleak and empty life."

But Deputy County Attorney Juan Martinez argued that Dixon's imprisonment and his behavior while in custody should not lead jurors to spare Dixon's life.

"It's nothing more than an excuse," Martinez said. "It's not a mitigating factor."

Before both parties made their opening statements, Judge Andrew Klein told jurors that in this phase of the trial they only needed to determine whether Dixon will be put to death or serve life in prison.

"You and you alone are the triers of fact," Klein said.

Klein cautioned them not to reconsider their earlier verdicts, in which they found Dixon guilty and decided that aggravating factors made him eligible for the death penalty.

On Wednesday, family members will tell the story of how Bowdoin's murder impacted them. However, they will not be permitted to recommend a verdict to the jury, Klein said.

Klein added that he didn't believe the Bowdoin family should be subject to cross-examination but said he hadn't determined yet whether their testimony would be sworn.

Following the impact statement, Martinez and Dixon will have the chance to present evidence to support their opening statements, which could include witness testimony and cross-examinations.

Klein said the parties' closing arguments and his final jury instructions will complete the mitigation phase on Thursday, after which the jury will have unlimited time to come to a verdict.

After the jury was excused Tuesday, Dixon told the court that certain objections the prosecuting attorney raised during an earlier phase of the trial which Klein had sustained hindered his ability to cross-examine witnesses. Dixon added that his imprisonment made it difficult for him to interview potential witnesses before the trial.

"The court acknowledges that your decision to represent yourself has caused you some difficulties," Klein responded.

He said Dixon failed to convince him to change his mind, but added that Dixon may raise his objections in a potential appeal.

"I never advised you to try to represent yourself," Klein told Dixon. "In fact, I tried to talk you out of it."

Reach the reporter at: andre.f.radzischewski@asu.edu.



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