Saturday, July 14, 2007

July 11, 2007

...It was South Dakota's first execution in 60 years...

Last Meal: Page had a final meal request of steak with A-1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. He wanted lemon iced tea and coffee to drink and ice cream for dessert.

The skinny: Page, 25, was executed for the torturing and killing a 19-year-old man following a robbery.

It was South Dakota's first execution in 60 years.

More skinny: Page and two other young men were convicted of killing a 19-year old "friend," near the town of Spearfish in the rural west of South Dakota.

The victim was kidnapped at gunpoint, then tortured for almost 3 hours before his death. He was forced to drink acid, repeatedly kicked and beaten, stabbed in the head and torso, and forced to remove his clothing in an icy creek.

His body was not found until a month later.

Upon his arrest in Texas, Page admitted his involvement in the murder. Page later pled guilty, received a death sentence, and waived appeals.

Accomplice Briley Piper, age 19, also pled guilty and was sentenced to death. Accomplice Darrell Hoadley, age 20, is serving a sentence of life without parole.

Last words and such: Asked if he had any last words, Page replied, "No." Asked if he understood the question Page responded, "Yes, no last words."

Factoids: Page was the...

30th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1087th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in South Dakota in 2007
1st murderer executed in South Dakota since 1976

It was the first execution in South Dakota since 1947 when another convicted murderer died in the electric chair. Before Wednesday, there had been only 15 executions in the state, the first occurring in 1877 when Jack McCall was hanged for shooting Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head as he played poker at a saloon in Deadwood when the state was still a territory. Hickok was said to have been holding eights and aces -- poker's "dead man's hand."

Executions are rare in South Dakota because of its sparse population. At about 780,000, it ranks 46th among the 50 states.

Besides Page, there were only three other men on South Dakota's death row, including one of his co-defendants.

Several demonstrators -- both for and against the death penalty -- were set up in a grassy area at the penitentiary.

In the hour before the execution, as the sun went down and the sky got pink behind the razor wire of the penitentiary, the demonstrators and media members grew quiet for a few moments in anticipation.

Near 9:30 p.m., a young woman played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Groups huddled in prayer, a rosary chorus of “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death” piercing the din as the sun set hazy on the horizon. A car whizzed past and its passenger interjected, “I’ll pay for the electric bill!”

By 10 p.m., there were 100 people opposing the death penalty and 10 supporting it.

Of the 38 states that have death penalty statutes since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, only four now have not executed anybody, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Those states are Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.