June 4, 2012 in Idaho

Leavitt loses execution-stay bids

By The Spokesman-Review

BOISE - Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to die June 12 for the 1984 murder and mutilation of Danette Elg in eastern Idaho, has lost three bids to stay his execution in the past five days.

One of those was immediately appealed to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments Thursday; the Idaho Supreme Court also heard further arguments Monday from Leavitt’s defense attorney, David Nevin, who contends that a March U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for consideration of Leavitt’s earlier claim of ineffective counsel.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed that claim Friday, but Nevin appealed to the 9th Circuit.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the portion of a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s lethal-injection execution procedure that involves Leavitt, leaving the case active for three other Death Row inmates.

The gist of that 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.

Leavitt also raised several other issues, but the judge found them not sufficient to warrant a stay of execution. Among them: He challenged the experience level of the people assigned to administer the lethal drugs through IVs, but state prison officials said the least-experienced member of the team has 15 years of relevant medical experience.

Nevin told the Idaho Supreme Court Monday that there are questions about Leavitt’s guilt, but Deputy Attorney General LaMont Anderson told the justices, “We’ve been at this case now for 28 years.”

Late Thursday, the Supreme Court justices dismissed a major filing by Leavitt’s attorneys, a petition to vacate the death warrant and conduct a new hearing.

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