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A disabled death row inmate who brutally killed an eight-year-old girl has been executed by lethal injection.

Frank Atwood, who was convicted of the vicious crime in 1984, has been put to death by the US in Arizona's second execution after an almost eight-year hiatus.

The 66-year-old, who was in a wheelchair, was killed by lethal injection at the state prison for the murder of Vicki Hoskinson.

Little Vicki Hoskinson's body was tragically found in the desert back in 1985 after months of leaving her Tucson, Arizona home.

She had left on a bicycle to drop a birthday card for her aunt in a nearby post box.

Friends of the Hoskinson family have spoken out in support outside of the prison to pay tribute to Vicki.

“I feel like it will be a part of a closure for my childhood,” Stacy Davis, a childhood friend of Vicki Lynne, told AZ Central.

Atwood had continued to defend his innocence as his lawyers made multiple failed pleas to have his execution halted.

But US District Judge Michael Liburdi made the decision to go ahead with the execution.

This went against the convict claiming the death penalty would violate his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.

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His lawyers claimed that Atwood would suffer excruciating suffering if he was strapped to a gurney due to his degenerative spinal condition.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Attwood to use a pillow and tilting feature in order to "minimise the pain Plaintiff experiences when he lies on his back".

Protestors and counter-protesters crowded outside the prison on Wednesday as police formed a barricade, AZ Central reported.

Atwood failed to choose between a gas chamber and lethal injection two weeks ago, which led him to die from lethal injection as it is the state's default method.

"The state's insistence on cyanide gas is a cynical choice to force the acceptance of the danger and incompetence of its lethal injection method, at the cost of embracing Nazi methods of mass extermination," Joseph Perkovich, a lawyer for Atwood, said in an email Sunday.

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