Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Catholic who once studied for the priesthood, is the only one who could spare the life of condemned Idaho inmate Paul Ezra Rhoades, a multiple murderer scheduled for execution next Friday. Otter, a supporter of the death penalty, has stuck by his position, even in the face of pleas for mercy from the pope, from the Swiss ambassador, and from the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Idaho.
“It's tough, it's tough,” Otter said, when asked about balancing his faith and his position. He's been reluctant to discuss the matter as Idaho approaches its first execution since 1994, when condemned murderer Keith Eugene Wells dropped his appeals and requested to be put to death. This case is different: Rhoades has tried every appeal, exhausted every remedy, and still is attempting in federal court to challenge Idaho's lethal-injection execution method as unconstitutionally cruel; a federal judge will decide Monday if that challenge should delay the scheduled execution. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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