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Posts tagged: execution

Trib: Whistling A Different Tune

Richard Albert Leavitt was executed by lethal injection Tuesday, 28 years after the murder of Danette Elg of Blackfoot. As reported by the four journalists who witnessed the procedure - from the time Leavitt was escorted into the execution chamber until his death was pronounced at 9:25 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time - the process was solemn, dignified and almost militarily precise. “Six correctional officers, wearing surgical masks and stationed three to a side like pallbearers, lifted the inmate off the gurney and strapped him to the execution table inside the Idaho state prison on Tuesday,” wrote The Associated Press' Rebecca Boone. “They attached intravenous lines to Richard Leavitt's arms and electrodes to the convicted killer's chest and stomach to measure his breathing and heart rate.” Later, Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke (shown in Greg Kreller Idaho Press Tribune/AP photo) said: “I am grateful that we have four media witnesses here to tell you what they saw. Our goal was to make this as professional as possible with dignity and respect, and I believe we met that mark.” What a stunning reversal/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: So what was hurt by having the media witness the entire execution process involving Richard Albert Leavitt?

What Execution Witnesses Saw

The six correctional officers, wearing surgical masks and stationed three to a side like pallbearers, lifted the inmate off the gurney and strapped him to the execution table inside the Idaho state prison on Tuesday. They attached intravenous lines to Richard Leavitt's arms and electrodes to the convicted killer's chest and stomach to measure his breathing and heart rate. A week ago, no one aside from the prison officials would have seen the state's lethal injection process in its entirety. But a federal judge ordered it open, siding with more than a dozen Idaho news groups, including The Associated Press, who sued in federal court for access. Those first steps — including the insertion of the IV lines that deliver the lethal chemicals — have become increasingly controversial in recent years as opponents question the efficacy of the lethal drug cocktail and the training of the execution team/Rebecca Boone, AP. More here.

Question: No matter how you feel about capital punishment, are you glad Rebecca Boone/AP and 3 other media witnesses were present to watch execution of Richard Leavitt today in Boise?

Execution Carried Out As ‘Prescribed’

Convicted murderer Richard Leavitt was declared dead at 10:25 this morning, executed by lethal injection. State Corrections Director Brent Reinke siad, “The procedures were carried out as prescribed. … The Department of Corrections has fulfilled the obligation that the law requires and that justice demands.” Four media witnesses who observed the execution described it as quiet and precise. “They appeared to be able to insert the IVs in both arms on the first attempt,” said AP reporter Rebecca Boone. KBOI-TV reporter Scott Logan said, “He was asked if he wanted to make a final statement. He just shook his head.” Added Logan, “I was struck by the military precision with which the escort team brought him into the chamber and the way it was carried out. I didn't see anything to suggest any problems”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (AP/Idaho Press Tribune photo by Greg Keller: Chuck Skoro, left, and Greg Franz, both of Boise, join a small group of protesters outside the Idaho Department of Corrections in opposition to the execution of Richard Leavitt)

Question: Does the media pay too much attention to protesters at executions?

Idaho Executes Richard Leavitt

About a dozen protesters had gathered outside Idaho's prison gates by 9 a.m., to protest the execution this morning of Richard Leavitt. “As citizens of this state, we are appalled that this killing is being done in our name,” Mia Crosthwaite of Idahoans Against the Death Penalty told the group, as they gathered in a circle to pray. More here. (Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise photo)

Update: Richard Leavitt has been executed. Time of death was 10:25 a.m. Tuesday/Statesman

An Idaho man convicted of brutally killing a woman nearly three decades ago and mutilating her body is set to be executed Tuesday, marking the first time witnesses will be allowed to watch the whole process of lethal injection in the state after a challenge by media organizations. Richard Albert Leavitt, who was convicted in 1985 of killing 31-year-old Danette Elg of Blackfoot, is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 10 a.m. MDT Tuesday. 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. But until now, witnesses in Idaho and several other states were barred from watching the first part of the procedure/Rebecca Boone, Statesman. More here.


Judge Rules Against Condemned Man

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has dismissed the portion of a lawsuit challenging Idaho's lethal-injection execution procedure that involves Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed on June 12. Lodge wrote in his 55-page decision and order today that he would allow more time for briefing in the case of the three other condemned prisoners who sued, Thomas Creech, James Hairston and Gene Stuart, but expedited Leavitt's portion because of his pending execution date. The gist of the lawsuit challenged the state's three-drug lethal injection procedure, charging that if the earlier drug to inflict unconsciousness failed, the condemned inmate would suffer severe and excruciating pain when the later, lethal drug took effect. Since then, Idaho has announced it will use a single-drug lethal injection procedure - exactly what Leavitt sought in the lawsuit - so those points were ruled moot/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.


Rhoades’ Execution Price Tag: $53K

The Nov. 18 execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades cost the Idaho Department of Correction $53,411, the department said. Of the total, $25,583 went to employee overtime and $27,828 went to operating costs. IDOC Director Brent Reinke says when his department began preparing for the execution, it made a commitment to carry out the assignment with professionalism, respect and dignity for all involved. “We believe we met those standards while at the same time being careful stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Reinke said. Operating expenses included medical supplies, equipment rentals and meals/Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Worth the cost?

Oregon Guv Won’t Allow Execution

Gov. John Kitzhaber (pictured) announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen — or any death row inmateto take place while he is in office. The death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered, Kitzhaber said. “In my mind it is a perversion of justice,” he said at an emotional news conference in Salem. The governor cited his constitutional authority to grant a temporary reprieve for Haugen, in effect canceling the planned Dec. 6 lethal injection of the twice-convicted murderer. Haugen waived his legal appeals and has been preparing for the execution, which would have been Oregon's first in 14 years/Helen Jung, Oregonian. More here. (AP photo)


Henry: Not Missing Paul Ezra Rhoades

For weeks, photos of Idaho's new execution chamber, along with sordid details of how lethal injection is carried out, have circulated on the Web. I've learned quite a bit about how last-minute appeals are filed, how the first of three injections renders the condemned unconscious so they don't feel the next two fatal shots that stop their breathing and heartbeat. The whole process is very clinical, very sterile and, providing nothing goes awry, painless for the condemned. The whole ordeal has also made me revisit my stance on capital punishment. I was raised in my faith that although God is the ultimate judge and will have the final ruling, society has a duty to carry out punishments for the good of greater society. As I've gotten older and explored my faith further, I realize there are basic tenets of human decency that one must adhere to. When you commit a crime contrary to the core of those tenets, you forfeit your place in society/Henry Johnston, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.

Question: Did Idaho's execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades cause you to revisit your stance on capital punishment?

An Eyewitness To An Execution

Nate Green, a reporter for the Idaho Press Tribune of Nampa, was one of four media witnesses Friday morning to the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades in the Idaho Penitentiary in Boise. He gives a detailed account of his Friday morning beginning at 3:30 a.m. You can read the detailed chronology here. He describes his first sight of Rhoades here:

8:46 a.m. Rhoades wears thick glasses and has a jutting chin. He blinks rapidly and twists his lips. He twists his head to the right and looks toward his mother, who sits in a private room separated from the witnesses, and appears to mouth the words, “I love you.” He looks upward at an overhead light and a video camera in the ceiling, then he twists his head and glances toward the witness room. His eyes alight on each person in the room, and he looks back to the ceiling.

Question: Do you expect more executions in Idaho within the next 2-3 years?

PM: Paradis, Rhoades ‘Best Friends’

In this 2001 AP file photo, an emotional Donald Manuel Paradis is led by his lawyer Bill Mauk, left, out of the Kootenai County courthouse where a judge accepted a guilty plea to a lesser charge and set Paradis free. Paradis, once condemned to die for the 1980 murder of Kimberly Palmer, said he was best friends with Paul Ezra Rhoades and lamented Rhoades' execution today. Story here. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Hucks Poll: Full Access To Executions

  • Thursday Poll: On a narrow vow, Hucks Nation supported giving the Idaho media full access to the execution process. 53 of 104 respondents (50.96%) said the media should have full access to executions, not just the final steps when the condemned is in the execution chamber. 50 of 104 respondents (48.08%) said the media shouldn't have full access. One person was undecided.
  • Weekend Poll: Do you support a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Editor: Executions Not Easy To Cover

Executions are not easy task for the media. But it's our responsibility and we take it seriously. Our own reporter, Idaho Press-Tribune's Nate Green, was one of the witnesses. We'll have stories online a bit later. We also had photographer Charlie Litchfield and reporter John Funk at the site. I appreciate the difficult assignment they had today/Vickie Schaffeld Holbrook, Idaho Press Tribune editor, via Facebook.

Question: Would you accept an assignment to cover an execution if you were a news reporter?

Idaho Executes Paul Ezra Rhoades

Idaho prison officials executed Paul Ezra Rhoades on Friday for his role in the 1987 murders of two women, marking the state's first execution in 17 years. Rhoades, 54, was declared dead at 9:15 a.m. at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution after being administered three separate drugs that make up the state's new lethal injection protocol. The execution had been scheduled for 8 a.m. but was delayed by over an hour because of a review of a motion filed late Thursday in 4th District Court. Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray declined to provide details of the late legal filing/Rebecca Boone, Idaho Statesman. More here.


Victims’ Families: Rhoades Should Die

Nolan Haddon's parents and brothers, left to right, Junior, Julie, Wes, and Clay, pose together in Blackfoot. In 1987 Nolan Haddon was killed by Paul Ezra Rhoades, who is scheduled to be executed on Friday morning. For 24 years, Julie Haddon has watched as her two oldest sons got married, had children. She’s wished her grandchildren could meet Nolan, the uncle that died before they were born. (AP Photo/Post Register, Ruth Brown)

Junior Haddon and his wife, Julie, gathered with their sons Wes and Clay at Wes Haddon’s Blackfoot home Wednesday to discuss the pending execution. Junior Haddon sat largely silent through most of the emotional, hourlong interview. But one question elicited a strong response: Will you be attending Mr. Rhoades’ execution? His answer: “Yes.” Clay Haddon, Nolan’s brother, said that if a death sentence is what the justice system declared fair, then that is what needs to be done. He does not believe a sentence of life in prison is just/Ruth Brown, Idaho Falls Post Register. More here.


Edit: Media Should See Total Execution

On Friday morning, the state of Idaho is scheduled to take a life in the name of its people — but largely beyond the view of its people. By restricting the news media’s access to a crucial step in the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades, the state Correction Department will restrict what Idahoans know about this most sobering service of justice. Idahoans will have to accept, on faith, the notion that the state’s first execution in 17 years was carried out without complications. That establishes a bad precedent for future executions — and there’s a good chance other Idaho inmates will be put to death in the next few years. Four reporters will be allowed to watch the execution, but the Correction Department has decided that they will not be able to watch as the execution team straps Rhoades into a gurney and inserts IVs into his veins/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Would you want to witness this execution?

Hucks Poll: Don’t Televise Executions

  • Wednesday Poll: Three-quarters of Hucks Nation say executions in this country shouldn't be televised. 115 of 151 respondents (76.16%) don't want to see executions televised. 35 of 151 respondents (23.18%) said they should be televised. One respondent was undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Should the media have full access to the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades Friday morning?

Media Wants To View Entire Execution

The Idaho Department of Correction says it will not allow media witnesses to view the entire execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades, and two separate groups are protesting the policy. Rhoades is scheduled to die by lethal injection Friday, making him the first person to be executed under Idaho's new lethal injection guidelines. Prison officials say to maintain Rhoades' dignity, they won't allow witnesses to view him being restrained or having the IVs inserted. They also said changing the procedure now could be disruptive. But a group of Idaho news organizations say that policy conflicts with a 2002 federal court ruling that found the public, through the media, must be allowed to view executions in their entirety. The news organizations have asked the state to reconsider/Rebecca Boone, AP. More here. (AP file photo of Idaho execution chamber)

Question: Should the media be allowed to witness the entire execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades?

Richert: Execution Ruling Right

On Monday, it wasn’t U.S. Magistrate Judge Ron Bush’s job to rule on the merits of a death penalty law. That question falls to Idaho’s Legislature and its governor. Nor was it Bush’s job to determine whether capital punishment is constitutional. Paul Ezra Rhoades, the convicted mass murderer facing a Friday execution date, is not disputing that point. Rhoades instead argued, through his attorneys, that Idaho’s method of lethal injection is unconstitutional — suggesting that the state’s execution team lacks the training to mete out this sentence without inflicting cruel and unusual punishment. The question before Bush was just that narrow, and just that clinical. Viewed within those constraints, he got it right/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Is there a more humane way to execute in this country than lethal injection?

Looking Back At Rhoades’ Victims

Before you get too weepy re: 3X killer Paul Ezra Rhoades and his date with the needle Friday, you might want to think about his victims:

  • Susan Michelbacher was the last of Rhoades' victims in March of 1987. The 34 year old was discovered roughly eight miles west of Idaho Falls in lava rock and sage brush shot to death. Later an autopsy revealed Rhoades shot her eight times before she bled to death.
  • In February of that year, before he kidnapped and killed Michelbacher, 21 year old Stacy Baldwin was shot after being abducted while working at the Red Mini Barn a convenience store in Blackfoot. She put up a fight against her attacker, Rhoades tried to sexually assault her but she was able to flee, as she ran, he shot her in the back.
  • On March 17th Nolan Haddon was shot while working at Buck's convenience store in Idaho Falls. The 23 year old was a student at the time at a technical-vocational school. His body was found in the store's walk in cooler. More here.

Question: Do protests against the death penalty and extraordinary efforts to save the life of condemned individuals minimize their victims?

Rhoades’ Execution Is On

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ron Bush has issued his 43-page decision in Paul Ezra Rhoades' last-minute bid for a stay of his execution - scheduled for Friday - while he challenges Idaho's lethal injection protocol, and the judge has denied a stay. That means Idaho's first execution since 1994 is on for this Friday at 8 a.m./Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Relieved by decision? Or disappointed? Or something else?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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