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Execution canceled for 73-year-old Idaho killer, on death row for over 40 years, because of vein issue: A 'harmless old man'
Composite screenshot of KTVB YouTube video (pictured: Thomas Creech, 2002)

Execution canceled for 73-year-old Idaho killer, on death row for over 40 years, because of vein issue: A 'harmless old man'

The execution of Idaho's longest-serving death row inmate has been canceled after officials were unable to access a vein into which they could inject the prescribed lethal drugs.

Thomas Creech, 73, has been on death row since 1981, when he pled guilty to killing a fellow prisoner. He has also been convicted a total of four other murders in Idaho, California, and Oregon. While in custody, he told investigators that he may have murdered as many as 42 people by the time he was 24, though that number remains in doubt.

Over the years, Creech's execution has been authorized on 12 separate occasions, most recently in January. Though Idaho technically permits executions by lethal injection and firing squad, the state does not have the facilities for a firing squad, so lethal injection remains the de facto option for death row inmates.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, officials at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna began the process to execute Creech via lethal injection. Witnesses were brought into the proper chamber while a handful of protestors, many of them identifying as Christians, stood outside to demonstrate against the proceedings.

It seems their prayers may have been answered as officials tried in vain for 45 minutes to "establish an IV line," said Department of Corrections Director Josh Tewalt. By 11 a.m., the procedure was canceled, Creech was returned to his cell, and his death warrant will be allowed to "expire" as the state now considers its "next steps," Tewalt's statement added.

A statement from Creech's attorneys, members of the legal nonprofit Federal Defender Services of Idaho, slammed the "botched" execution of such a "harmless old man." "This is what happens when unknown individuals with unknown training are assigned to carry out an execution," the statement read in part.

Earlier this month, Creech was granted a hearing before a state parole board, asking the six-person panel to override his death sentence and allow him to die of natural causes in prison. During the hearing, some of his supporters — including former and current prison employees and the Ada County judge who gave him the death penalty — claimed that he was a changed man.

"For me, Tom has become a living symbol for the problems with the death penalty," wrote former state Rep. Donna Boe, a Democrat. "I have no doubt that he has changed and grown as a person, that he has true care and concern for others including the staff who work at the prison, and that an execution would be a tragic waste of life."

According to reports, Creech has developed relationships with prison staff. He also got married 25 years ago. Creech and his wife, LeAnn Creech, shared what they believed would be his last meal on Tuesday night.

Despite his pleas for "grace," the parole board deadlocked 3-3, thereby denying his motion. SCOTUS likewise declined his final appeals on Wednesday morning.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News. She has a Ph.D. in Shakespearean drama, but now enjoys writing about religion, sports, and local criminal investigations. She loves God, her husband, and all things Michigan State.
@cortneyweil →