First hanging in Arizona

When: Jan. 5, 1910

Who: Jose Lopez, 19.

Crime: On Aug. 1, 1909, Lopez argued with Maria Espinoza, who owed his father $8. After Espinoza did not pay the debt, Lopez left the woman’s home near Hunt Highway and Attaway Road, four miles west of Florence and north of the Gila River, and later returned with a shotgun as she and her seven children were sleeping. One of Espinoza’s sons who heard Lopez enter the house, jumped out of bed and yelled, “What are you going to do with that gun?” When Espinoza awoke to the commotion. Lopez shot and killed her.  

Time of execution after the crime: Five months, four days.

First (and only) woman executed in Arizona

When: Feb. 21, 1930.

Who: Eva Dugan, 51.

Crime: In the late 1920s, Dugan was working as a housekeeper for A.J. Mathis, a rancher in north Tucson and was arrested soon after he disappeared and she stole his car. While Dugan was in jail, a camper pitching a tent near a campground in Tucson, discovered Mathis’ body, which had been bludgeoned to death. Dugan, who had past husbands that disappeared, was charged with Mathis’ murder.

Time of execution after crime: About two and a half years.

Note: An unexpected incident signaled the end of hangings in Arizona after Dugan’s execution. The distance Dugan needed to fall to die during the hanging was miscalculated and during the execution, she was decapitated. Arizona then instituted death by lethal gas for death row inmates soon after.

First execution by lethal gas

When: July 7, 1934.

Who: Brothers Manuel and Fred Hernandez.

Crime: On Jan. 30, 1933, brothers Manual and Fred Hernandez robbed Charles T. Washburn, a miner in Casa Grande. After hitting Washburn over the head, they were carrying his body to throw it down a well when they realized he was still alive. The brothers shot Washburn with a double barrel shotgun and then threw his body down the well.

Time of execution after crime: One year, seven months.

First execution by lethal injection

When: March 3, 1993

Who: John George Brewer, 27.

Crime: On Nov. 11, 1987, Brewer, of Flagstaff, beat and strangled to death Rita Brier, his live-in girlfriend. He later walked to a nearby bowling alley, called police and turned himself in.

Time of execution after crime: Four years, seven months.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.