Sunday, November 20, 2011

Idaho Carries Out First Execution in 17 Years

The 43nd Execution of 2011

Idaho executed Paul Ezra Rhoades on November 18th for his role in the 1987 murders of two women.  It was the first execution in Idaho in 17 years, according to The Associated Press.

Rhoades was declared dead at 9:15 a.m. at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution after being administered state’s new three drug lethal injection protocol.

Rhoades was convicted in the kidnapping and murders of 34-year-old Susan Michelbacher and 21-year-old Stacy Dawn Baldwin. He was also sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 20-year-old Nolan Haddon.

The killings occurred during a three-week span in the winter of 1987. Prosecutors said he snatched Michelbacher, a special education teacher, into his van, raped her, shot her nine times and continued the sexual assault either as she lay dying or after she was already dead, reported The Associated Press.

Baldwin died in similar fashion. The newlywed and convenience store worker was abducted at gunpoint and taken to a remote area where he tried to sexually assault her. She fought back, and as she was scrambling away on all fours, he shot her twice and left her to die alone in the snow.

According to the Idaho  Department of Corrections, Rhoades spent his final days watching television, reading and doing artwork. He has also been talkative while meeting with family members, his attorney and his spiritual advisor, and engaging in conversations with the correctional officers who are monitoring him.

His last meal was the  same meal that is offered to all other Idaho Maximum Security inmates. The meal consisted of hot dogs, sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, baked beans, veggie sticks, ranch dressing, fruit with gelatin and strawberry ice cream cups.

Rhoades' final statement was a mixed bag of contrition and denial. According to KTVB-TV, Rhoades said, "I'm sorry for the part I played in your wife's death. Bert Michelbacher, For Haddon, you still have to keep looking. I can't help you, I'm sorry for your family. I can't help you, I took part in the Michelbacher death, I can't help you guys, sorry."

He then faced the section that contained his representatives, and he said "Mom, goodbye," he then turned and faced the warden Randy Blades and said, "You guys, I forgive you, I really do." 

Rhoades, an Idaho Falls native, was the first Idaho inmate to be executed since 1994 and the only person to be involuntarily put to death in the state since 1957. The last inmate to be executed gave up all of his remaining appeals and asked the state to carry out his lethal injection.

Rhoades is the 1,277 person executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.  His execution is the 43rd and final execution of 2011.  There were 46 executions carried out in 2010.

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