Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Idaho executes inmate for woman's killing in 1984
REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press
Updated 06:08 p.m., Tuesday, June 12, 2012
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — 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.
Others 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.
Photo : A small group of protesters gather outside the Idaho Department of Corrections in opposition to the scheduled execution of Richard Leavitt on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 in Kuna. Prison officials declared Leavitt, 53, dead at 10:25 a.m. Tuesday by lethal injection at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution. It was only Idaho’s second execution in 17 years. Leavitt was convicted of stabbing 31-year-old Danette Elg, of Blackfoot, in 1984. MANDATORY CREDIT Photo: Idaho Press-Tribune, Greg Kreller / AP
2. Idaho inmate Leavitt executed; Elg’s family wants tragedy in past
Published: June 13, 2012
STATESMAN STAFF AND WIRE SERVICES
Despite his previous claims of innocence, Richard “Rick” Leavitt offered no last words to the people who watched his execution Tuesday morning.
Leavitt was put to death for brutally stabbing Danette Elg of Blackfoot nearly three decades ago, as witnesses watched Idaho’s entire lethal injection process for the first time.
Idaho Maximum Security Institution Warden Randy Blades led the execution. When Blades asked Leavitt, “Would you like to make a final statement?” Leavitt made no eye contact and said nothing.
He simply shook his head twice.
Prior to the lethal-drug injection, Blades asked Leavitt if he wanted his eyes covered.
“No,” Leavitt said.
It was the only word witnesses heard him speak in the execution chamber.
Leavitt’s family visited with him Monday but did not attend the execution at his request.
Elg’s sister, VaLynn Mathie, kissed Elg’s stepfather, Richard Bross, on the cheek and held his hand in the witness room of the execution chamber. The pair remained silent and shed no tears.
In a statement, the family said they are ready to put the horror and tragedy in the past. Family members say they can now focus their memories on Elg’s life after years of living with the fact her murder overshadowed so much else.
A FIRST FOR REPORTER
KBOI-TV2 reporter Scott Logan has seen violence, he said, when working as a reporter in South America. But never before had he seen death so carefully planned and orchestrated.
The emotional charge was palpable, he said, but the staff’s professionalism throughout left him impressed. Leavitt’s quiet passing, he added, was perhaps a stark contrast to the violent death of Leavitt's victim.
“I was struck by the military precision with which the escort team brought him into this chamber,” Logan said.
‘JUSTICE ... SERVED’
In contrast to the Nov. 18 execution of serial killer Paul Ezra Rhoades, no last-minute appeals were made or denied the day of Leavitt’s execution.
“Justice has been served,” said Tom Moss, a former U.S. attorney in Idaho who prosecuted Leavitt as Bingham County attorney.
DEMONSTRATORS DECRY EXECUTION
About 25 protesters gathered at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, holding signs like “Execute Justice Not People” and reciting prayers. The protesters said they hoped to convey a message that while Leavitt’s 1984 murder of Elg was terrible, the state’s killing of Leavitt should not be tolerated.
“This isn’t policy. These are real human beings being killed,” said Mia Crosthwaite, a member of Idahoans Against the Death Penalty. “And these are real human beings doing the killing.”
Only one demonstrator came to show support of the death penalty, prison officials said.
‘NO JOY IN THIS DUTY’
“The men and women of the Department of Correction who are involved in this process have been preparing for this day since the execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades in November,” Department Director Brent Reinke told reporters.
“They are dedicated public servants who must carry out a difficult assignment by meeting the highest standards of professionalism, respect and dignity for all involved. They take no joy in this duty.”
Leavitt spent much of the night with his attorneys and requested sedatives several times, according to state prison officials, but made no final statement. “I would say that his mood was one of resolve,” Reinke said.
Which one of the 13 Idaho death row prisoners is next? Officials say it’s impossible to tell.
Four inmates have been on death row since the 1980s: Gene Stuart (1982), Thomas Creech (1983), Gerald Pizzuto Jr. (1986) and David Card (1989).
All four have an appeal pending in federal courts.
LaMont Anderson, a senior deputy with the Idaho attorney general’s office who is the lead counsel on death penalty cases, told the Statesman previously that any judicial ruling on those cases can radically change the timeline.
Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that new evidence found in Pizzuto’s case isn’t enough to give him another chance at overturning his 1986 murder conviction. Anderson pointed out it took the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals about a year to issue that decision.
Attorneys for Pizzuto are still appealing his conviction in U.S. District Court. They say Pizzuto’s conviction and sentence should be dismissed because his low IQ disqualifies him from the death penalty.
RESENTENCING FOR DEATH ROW INMATE
Idaho’s longest tenured death row inmate, Lacey Sivak, will be resentenced in Ada County next year for the 1981 murder of Dixie Wilson.
The hearing — which in this case is more like a trial — is expected to last at least a month because prosecutors need to re-create a 30-year-old crime for a 2013 jury.
The guilt of Sivak is not in question. What the Ada County jury will decide is whether the murder was heinous enough to warrant putting him to death.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the outcome of his 1981 sentencing hearing might have been different if prosecutors hadn’t knowingly presented testimony from one inmate who lied about why he was testifying, and another who admitted that he was a habitual liar.
Sivak was briefly scheduled to die by firing squad on Jan. 31, 1984, but the Idaho Supreme Court granted a stay.
WASHINGTON REVIEWS EXECUTION RULING
Washington state doesn’t have any immediate plans to change its execution policy after a federal appeals court ruled that witnesses should have full viewing access to the process.
The ruling struck down a portion of Idaho’s regulations that prevented witnesses, including reporters, from watching executions until after catheters have been inserted into the veins of death row inmates. It could affect execution policies in three other Western states: Arizona, Montana and Washington.
Ruth Brown, Post-Register; Nate Green, Idaho Press-Tribune; John Funk, Idaho Press-Tribune; The Associated Press; and Patrick Orr, Idaho Statesman
Justice served in Idaho
God bless the victim and her family
Welcome to Hell rubbish Leavitt...
Stay with the Devil forever...