BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho judge issued a death warrant on Thursday for the state's longest-serving death row inmate, scheduling his execution for next month.
Thomas Creech was convicted of killing two people in Valley County in 1974 and sentenced to death row. But after an appeal that sentence was reduced to life in prison. Less than 10 years later, however, he was convicted of beating a fellow inmate to death with a sock full of batteries, and he was again sentenced to death in 1983.
The death warrant was issued by 4th District Judge Jason Scott Thursday afternoon, and the Idaho Department of Correction said Creech would be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 8.
“The Department has secured the chemicals necessary to carry out an execution by lethal injection,” the department wrote in a press release.
Idaho prison officials have previously had trouble obtaining the chemicals used in lethal injections. The state repeatedly scheduled and canceled another inmate's planned execution until a federal judge ordered prison leaders to stop. That inmate, Gerald Pizzuto Jr., has spent more than three decades on death row for his role in the 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors. He filed a federal lawsuit contending that the on-again, off-again execution schedule amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
Deborah Czuba, with the Federal Defender Services of Idaho, said her office was disappointed by the state's decision to seek a death warrant for Creech, and promised to fight for his life by seeking clemency and challenging the quality of the execution drugs.
“Given the shady pharmacies that the State has obtained the lethal drugs from for the past two Idaho executions, the State’s history of seeking mock death warrants without any means to carry them out, and the State’s misleading conduct around its readiness for an execution, we remain highly concerned about the measures the State resorted to this time to find a drug supplier,” Czuba wrote in a press release.
Czuba said the state was focused on “rushed retribution at all costs,” rather than on the propriety of execution.