Arizona may be close to executing its first inmate in seven years, reports the Arizona Republic. Death-row inmate Robert Charles Comer, 50, convicted in the 1988 murder of a camper, says he wants to die. On Thursday, a federal appellate court agreed that he should get his wish. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 14-1 that it was OK for Comer to end his appeals. It’s unclear whether this is the end for Comer’s case or whether additional appeals will proceed against his wishes.
The court’s decision put death-row inmates in the spotlight, but Maricopa County is struggling to handle death cases headed to trial. The county currently has a record 136 pending capital cases. Although it is unusual for a death-row inmate like Comer to abandon his appeals, it is not unheard of. Nationally, about 12 percent of the inmates who have been executed since 1976 could have pursued additional appeals but chose not to, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.