[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----SOUTH DAKOTA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Aug 13 23:05:30 UTC 2006
Man seeks execution in South Dakota
A man set to die by injection, would be the 1st to be executed in South
Dakota in 59 years.
Elijah Page, 24, has asked to fire his lawyer, forgo appeals and die by
injection for his role in the March 13, 2000, slaying of 19-year-old
Chester Poage. Page and two other men beat, stabbed and tortured Poage in
Higgins Gulch near Spearfish in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.
Page, of Athens, Texas, should find out at a hearing Monday if the same
judge who handed down his death sentence will grant his request.
Judge Warren Johnson of Deadwood had ordered a mental evaluation before
considering Page's request.
"If the results show you're competent to make the decisions, I will be
inclined to honor your decision," Johnson told Page at a May hearing.
Defense lawyer Mike Butler has said he thinks Page's decision to end his
appeals might be equivalent to a suicide attempt.
Page's execution already is set for the week of August 28 at the state
penitentiary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The state Supreme Court has
upheld his death sentence.
Johnson sentenced Page and Briley Piper, 25, of Anchorage, Alaska, to
death in 2001 even though they pleaded guilty, saying he considered the
killing vile and depraved.
That combination of a guilty plea and death sentence is rare, said Richard
Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which
provides analysis and information on capital punishment issues.
South Dakota prosecutors have sought the death penalty in some cases but
it rarely is imposed by the state's juries -- let alone judges.
Page's refusal to pursue appeals also is out of the ordinary.
"There have been quite a few people, that is about 12 % of those executed
(in the U.S.), who had waived part of their appeals," said Dieter. It is
"somewhat unusual to waive every possible appeal," as Page has done.
The third man charged with Poage's killing, Darrell Hoadley, 26, of Lead,
South Dakota, opted to stand trial. He was convicted and a split jury
sentenced him to life in prison.
According to testimony, Hoadley said Page and Piper planned to steal a
stereo, a television and other property from Poage's mother's house in
Spearfish, South Dakota. A prosecutor said Poage was killed so there would
be no witness.
Hoadley said Piper stabbed Poage 3 times in the head and neck, and Page
kicked Poage 30 to 40 times in the head, tearing his ears off, then hit
him on the head with large rocks.
Hoadley said he hit Poage with 2 large rocks near the end of the attack,
which lasted at least 2 hours. He said he was afraid Piper and Page would
kill him if he interfered or tried to leave.
South Dakota had the death penalty when it became a state in 1889 but
abolished it in 1915. Capital punishment was reinstated in 1939 but
abolished again from 1977 to 1979 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
existing death penalty laws unconstitutional. The current death penalty
statute has been in place since 1979.
Other men have been sentenced to die, but Page would be the 2st executed
in the state since 1947. Besides Page and Piper, 2 other men are on South
Dakota's death row, but their cases are in various stages of appeal.
Even if Page's execution request is granted, he still could change his
mind and let the appeals process continue.
Either way, the state is ready to carry out the death sentence warrant,
said Doug Weber, director of prison operations for the South Dakota
Department of Corrections.
(source: Associated Press)
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