One of Longest-Serving Death Row Inmates Set to Die Today

Thomas Eugene Creech has been imprisoned since 1974
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2024 9:15 AM CST
One of Longest-Serving Death Row Inmates Set to Die Today
This image provided by the Idaho Department of Correction shows Thomas Eugene Creech on Jan. 9, 2009.   (Idaho Department of Correction via AP)

The hour of Thomas Eugene Creech's death has been set, and it is rapidly approaching. On Wednesday morning, Idaho prison officials will ask the 73-year-old if he would like a mild sedative to help calm him before his execution at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution south of Boise. Then, at 10am local time, they will bring him into the execution chamber, reports the AP. Creech, who is one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the US, has been imprisoned since 1974. More on what happened, and will happen:

  • The crimes: He was originally sentenced to death for the shooting deaths of John Wayne Bradford and Edward Thomas Arnold. That sentence, however, was changed to life in prison after the state's sentencing law was found unconstitutional. Then, in 1983, he was sentenced to death for the murder of David Dale Jensen, who was 22, disabled, and serving time for a car theft when Creech beat him to death at the Idaho State Penitentiary on May 13, 1981.
  • The crimes, II: In addition to the Idaho murders, Creech has been convicted of killing both William Joseph Dean in Oregon and Vivian Grant Robinson in California in 1974. He was also charged with killing Sandra Jane Ramsamooj in Oregon that year, but the charge was later dropped in light of his other murder sentences.
  • What will be allowed in the execution chamber: Creech's spiritual adviser will be allowed to stand next to Creech with a hand on his shoulder. The Episcopal bishop will also be able to silently pray over Creech but won't be allowed to hold his hand or make any noise once the administration of the lethal injection chemical begins. Creech's wife will be seated in the witness area where he can make eye contact with her.

  • Creech's supporters: They have pushed to have his sentence converted to life without parole, saying he is a deeply changed man who has become a kind and supportive force inside the Idaho Maximum Security Institution cell block where he lives. Several years ago he married the mother of a correctional officer, and former prison staffers said he was known for writing poetry and frequently expressing gratitude for the work done by correctional officers.
  • And his critics: During his clemency hearing, Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jill Longhorst did not dispute that Creech can be polite and friendly with correctional officers. But she said he is a psychopath—a man who can be charming and likeable but who lacks remorse and empathy for others.
  • A rare execution: Idaho's death penalty was established in 1864, about 26 years before the territory became a state. Since that time, 29 executions have been carried out, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Creech will be only the fourth to be executed by the state since 1957, the year of its last hanging, all of them by lethal injection. After Creech's execution, just seven people will remain on Idaho's death row.
(More death row stories.)

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