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Sentence: Death

Dixon sentenced to die for ASU student's 1978 rape and murder

 by Emma Breysse
 published on Friday, January 25, 2008

<b>FINAL THOUGHTS:</b> Clarence Dixon reflects while his assisting council speaks to Judge Andrew Klein moments before the jury sentenced him to death Thursday for the 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin. After the sentencing, Dixon requested the method of death be changed from lethal injection to lethal gas.
/issues/news/703263
John Battaglia / THE STATE PRESS
FINAL THOUGHTS: Clarence Dixon reflects while his assisting council speaks to Judge Andrew Klein moments before the jury sentenced him to death Thursday for the 1978 murder of ASU student Deana Bowdoin. After the sentencing, Dixon requested the method of death be changed from lethal injection to lethal gas.
 
<b>EMBRACE:</b> Bowdoin family members give hugs on the way out of court after Clarence Dixon 
received the death sentence for the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin.
/issues/news/703263
John Battaglia / THE STATE PRESS
EMBRACE: Bowdoin family members give hugs on the way out of court after Clarence Dixon received the death sentence for the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin.
 

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For a crime that took nearly 25 years to solve and a criminal case that spanned five years, the jury of convicted murderer Clarence Wayne Dixon needed fewer than 15 minutes to reach its sentence: death.

Dixon was sentenced Thursday to be executed for the 1978 murder of Deana Bowdoin, marking the end of what family members said has been a long and heart-wrenching process for those who still miss and love her.

After hearing Dixon's plea for mercy and closing arguments from both sides, a 12-member jury of the Maricopa County Superior Court reached its verdict.

"We're just very pleased and relieved and happy," said a teary-eyed Bobbie Bowdoin, the victim's mother. "It's been a long time coming."

ASU senior Deana Bowdoin was found dead in her Lemon Street apartment 30 years ago. In 1996, Tempe Police Detective Tom Magazzeni began the investigation that would lead to Dixon's November 2002 indictment.

The verdict was the final step in the trial's mitigation process, in which Dixon attempted to prove that there were factors in his case that might defer the death penalty.

The other option for jurors was to sentence Dixon to life in prison.

Dixon, who represented himself, argued in his closing statement that the approximate 175-year sentence he is currently serving for other crimes is punishment enough.

"I am what you might call 'a caged animal,'" he said during his closing argument. "Management and control, that's what prison is about. You're no longer yourself for years and years and years."

Dixon also argued that sentencing him to death was not the answer.

"You have already decided that I have blood on my hands," he said to the jurors. "If you vote for the death penalty, you will also have blood on your hands."

Prosecuting Attorney Juan Martinez called this an attempt on Dixon's part to shift responsibility for his actions to the jury.

"The state's position is that these are not mitigating factors," Martinez said in his closing argument, displaying a photo of Deana Bowdoin. "I ask you whether or not any mitigating circumstances are sufficiently substantial to call for leniency in light of the way he murdered this girl."

Martinez declined to comment on the sentence. Dixon was legally barred from doing so because of his impending appeal. He added nothing to the record upon hearing the verdict except a request that the method of death be changed from lethal injection to lethal gas.

For the family and friends of Deana Bowdoin who crowded the courtroom, the news was more than welcome, said Leslie James, the victim's older sister.

"We've waited a long time for today," she said. "The jury did the exact right thing. [Dixon] killed Deana, and he's sentenced to death, and that's how it should be."

Outside the courtroom, crying family members pulled out cell phones to give the news to those waiting around the country.

"There has just been amazing support from so many people," James said as she clutched a bag that held her notebooks of the trial and mementos of her sister.

The bag has grown very heavy over the years, with at least 37 hearings since the case began, she said.

Laura Giudici, an alternate jury member, said she is thrilled for the family. Giudici did not deliberate on the verdict, but said she agreed with it completely.

"It was a long haul, but it was worth it if the family has some closure," she said. "It was my pleasure to be a part of it."

Mischa Hepner, the family's personal attorney from Arizona Voice for Crime Victims who has been with Bowdoin's family since the beginning of the legal proceedings, said she is relieved for the Bowdoins.

"We've become very close with the family, and this is the day we've been working for," Hepner said. "We're all very happy."

More coverage

Grief takes the stand
'A fairly bleak and empty life'
Justice served 30 years later
Residents seek extra protection after strangling (Jan. 20, 1978)
Her friends 'don't understand' (Jan. 19, 1978)
Leads dry up in coed's death (Jan. 17, 1978)
Slideshow

Reach the reporter at: emma.breysse@asu.edu.



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