Boise, ID – The first execution in Idaho in 17 years is set for this Friday. Paul Ezra Rhoades was already on death row when that execution happened. Rhoades has been appealing his two death sentences for years. Now his legal options are just about gone.
You’ve probably watched the tense scene in old movies where a condemned man waits for a last minute call from a governor to stop his execution. Idaho’s constitution does give that prerogative to Governor Butch Otter.
Butch Otter “Even though I do have the final ultimate say and ultimate responsibility, I also have a responsibility to withhold judgment. A person is allowed to absolutely exhaust every potential appeal. We are at that point now.”
Paul Rhoades’ defense team has exhausted most avenues. The state rejected Rhoades’ last clemency appeal. The deadline is past to file motions with the state Supreme Court. Rhoades has one appeal pending in federal court.
Dave Leroy “It seems to me the federal appeals are the last course.”
Dave Leroy is a former Idaho Attorney General. He’s been involved in numerous homicide cases both on the defense and prosecution. Leroy says Rhoades federal appeal has to go through multiple courts in the next five days. That appeal is over Idaho’s protocol for conducting lethal injection. It tries to call into doubt the state’s ability to perform an execution properly.
Dave Leroy “Lethal injection methodology has been attacked many times over the years, in many other states, and it generally speaking has been found to be a lawful and constitutional method by which society may exact the ultimate penalty.”
Leroy says a successful federal appeal would likely result in only a temporary stay. That stay could be ordered any time up to the last second. The same goes with an order from the governor. Otter won’t say how likely he is to make a last minute call, he will say it’s tough to get a death sentence in Idaho.
Butch Otter “One of the requirements we have on the death penalty is that all twelve jurors agree to that.”
Otter notes two juries agreed to give death penalties to Paul Rhoades.