Court approves executions for 2 Arizona inmates
Wed Jan 11, 2012 15:38

Court approves executions for 2 Arizona inmates
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 23:40

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the executions of two inmates, including one who has been on death row for 26 years for brutally killing and dismembering his adoptive mother.

The court approved warrants for Robert Henry Moormann and Robert Charles Towery and set their executions eight days apart from one another. Moormann’s execution was scheduled for Feb. 29 and Towery’s was scheduled for March 8.

If Moormann’s execution is carried out, it will be the first death penalty carried out in the state since July 19, when the state executed Thomas Paul West for the beating death of another man in a 1987 robbery.

The court was set to consider approving the death warrants for Moormann and Towery back in November, but delayed the decision at the last minute without explanation.

At the time, a federal judge was considering a lawsuit filed by defense attorneys arguing that Arizona’s execution practices violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

The lawsuit claimed that the state had deviated from a court-approved execution protocol by using unvetted personnel to administer lethal injections under a sheet, away from witnesses’ view.

Judge Neil Wake ended up dismissing the lawsuit on Dec. 21. The defense attorneys are appealing his decision to the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Moormann, 63, was serving a prison term of nine years to life for kidnapping in 1984 when the state let him out on three-day “compassionate furlough” to visit his adoptive mother at a nearby motel called the Blue Mist. Moormann beat, stabbed and suffocated the woman before meticulously dismembering her body. He then went to various business owners asking if he could dispose of spoiled meat and animal guts before he threw most of her remains in various trash bins and sewers in Florence. He was captured soon after.

Moormann’s attorneys used an insanity defense, but a jury convicted him of first-degree murder after two hours of deliberations. Although a judge found that Moormann had an impaired mental capacity that limited his ability to know right from wrong, he imposed a death sentence.

Court records show that Moormann contended that his adoptive mother molested him as a child, but that was never corroborated.

More recently, his lawyers argued that recent surgeries left Moormann weak and ineligible to be put to death.
Towery, 47, was convicted of killing a man while robbing his home in 1991. He and his roommate at the time, Randy Barker, went to the home of a man named Mark Jones and asked to use the telephone.

Barker testified at trial that he pretended to make a call while Towery pulled a gun and told Jones that they were going to rob him. Barker said that over the course of two hours, he kept watch as Towery gathered up jewelry, electronics and $1,200 in cash and loaded them into Jones’ car.

Barker said that he and Towery led Jones to his bedroom, where Towery laid him face down on the bed, and tried to inject him with battery acid before he strangled him. Jones’ body was found the next day.

Towery said that Barker was the one who killed Jones and that he wasn’t even in the home.
Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at!/AmandaLeeAP

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