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Child killer fights to avoid death penalty

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 22:29:35-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The case of a little girl killed almost 33 years ago is still alive in the courts today and we are getting a rare look at key evidence in the case. 

Frank Atwood was found guilty of killing eight year old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984.  He was sentenced to death. 

Now he is fighting appeals to stay alive, while the girl's family waits for his execution. 

In September 1984 Vicki Lynne Hoskinson got on her bicycle and rode off to mail a birthday card.  Her family never saw her again. 

Frank Atwood was found guilty of killing her, in part on the strength of a mark of pink paint on his car bumper, that lab tests called a match for the paint on the little girl's pink bike. 

Evidence photos simulate Atwood's car hitting Vicki Lynne's bike. 

They also show a dent on the bumper that appears to fit the shape of one of the bicycle pedals. 

But 33 years later, Atwood is trying to avoid the death penalty by claiming that evidence was planted. 

Before three Federal judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Atwood's lawyer, and an attorney for the state of Arizona argued over whether evidence from the car and bike can be believed. 

They also argued whether Atwood's original attorney made a mistake in Atwood's original trial that led to a death sentence.   

Atwood claimed he had been molested as a child, and he had a history of crimes against children.  His original trial attorney kept that information out of the trial thinking it would make jurors more likely to convict.  Now Atwood's appeals lawyer says that information might have avoided a death penalty.      

It is not clear when the judges will rule.  The appeal could go all the way to the Supreme Court.