ARIZONA: OLDEST US DEATH ROW INMATE DIES
February 12, 2010: Oldest US death row inmate died in Arizona.Â Viva Leroy Nash, 94, white, died late Friday at the state's prison complex in Florence, said an Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman.
Deaf, nearly blind, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from dementia and mental illness, the oldest death row inmate in the United States has died of natural causes at age 94.
Nash had been imprisoned almost continuously since he was 15. Nash had suffered a series of heart attacks, the most recent early this month. His jailers recently removed him from the death row cell block on their own initiative because he was so mentally unfit.
At the time of Nash's death, state prosecutors were appealing a federal appeals court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court that concluded he might not be competent, Phalen said.
Nash was born in 1915 and was sent to the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., in 1930 for an armed robbery. He spent 25 years in prison for shooting a Connecticut police officer in 1947. In 1977, Nash was sentenced to 2 consecutive life sentences for a robbery and murder in Salt Lake City but escaped from a prison work crew in October 1982.
3 weeks later, on Nov. 3, 1982, Nash went into a coin shop in Phoenix and demanded money from employee Greggory West. Nash shot West 3 times, killing him. He was convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1983.
The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1985 and Nash then filed a series of unsuccessful appeals in both state and federal court. His most recent appeal was rejected by a U.S. District Court judge in 2006, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that he was entitled to a hearing to determine if he was competent to assist in his defense. Doctors who had examined him told the court he suffered from a delusional disorder and memory problems and was incompetent. (Sources: Associated Press, 12/02/2010)