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Idaho prepares to carry out second execution in seven months this morning

Inside the temporary media center at the Idaho state prison complex Tuesday morning (Betsy Russell)
Inside the temporary media center at the Idaho state prison complex Tuesday morning (Betsy Russell)

This is the scene inside the media tent at the Idaho state prison complex this morning, where at 10 a.m., the state is scheduled to carry out its second execution in seven months, inside the Idaho Maximum Security Institution. Richard Leavitt is scheduled to  die by lethal injection for the 1984 murder of Danette Elg. Four media witnesses will represent the public; it is the first time witnesses will be allowed to watch the whole process of lethal injection in the state after a legal challenge by media organizations.

Death row inmates in Idaho and nationwide have challenged lethal injection procedures in part by claiming that the insertion of the IVs can be easily botched, resulting in excruciating pain or other problems, the AP reports. But until now, witnesses in Idaho and several other states were barred from watching the first part of the procedure, including the insertion of IVs.

State witnesses who will be present are Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg; Bingham County Prosecutor Scott Andrew; Bingham County Sheriff Dave Johnson; Mark Warbis, communications director, office of the governor; Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden; and Robin Sandy, chair of the state Board of Correction. The media witnesses are Rebecca Boone, Associated Press; Ruth Brown,  Idaho Falls Post Register; Scott Logan, KBOI-TV; and John Funk, Idaho Press-Tribune.

Idaho has switched its lethal injection procedure to a single drug, a lethal dose of the surgical sedative pentobarbital. Leavitt and three other Death Row inmates had filed a lawsuit challenging the previous three-drug procedure.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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