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Death Penalty

First S.D. Execution in 60 Years Set

Posted Jul 6, 2007 10:41 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An inmate who has asked to die is set to become the first person to be executed in South Dakota in 60 years.

Elijah Page, 25, received the death sentence for murdering a robbery victim with two accomplices in March 2000, the Associated Press reports. Prosecutors claimed the two men tortured the victim for at least two hours before he died.

Gov. Mike Rounds had postponed the execution, first scheduled for August 2006, until the state legislature updated its lethal injection law to permit the drug mixture that is now the standard.

More than 1,000 members of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center have written letters to Rounds seeking a stay of the new execution date, the Rapid City Journal reports.

But the person with the most power to delay the execution is Page himself, according to his attorney Mike Butler. He says the governor has agreed to delay the execution if Page changes his mind and seeks to restart the appeals process.

"Truly the matter rests in Mr. Page's hands at this point,'' Butler said.

Death penalty opponents said they doubted Page would change his mind in light of the recent death of the woman who served as kind of a surrogate mother to him, according to the Argus Leader.

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