A New Era of Executions 

Idaho schedules its next lethal injection

Brent Reinke, director of the Idaho Department of Correction, is a man of many details. He can quote policies and procedures without missing a beat. But he had to pause for a moment when asked where he was in July 1984.

"I have to think about that," he said. "I was a businessman in the Magic Valley, and that was right about the time I started as a [Twin Falls] county commissioner."

Ten years prior, Reinke lived in Blackfoot.

"That's where my wife and I met," he said. "I can't exactly recall, but I'm sure we talked about it."

"It" was the July 17, 1984, murder of 31-year-old Danette Elg in her Blackfoot home. She was sexually mutilated and stabbed or slashed 15 times. The day before, she told Blackfoot Police that Richard Leavitt, a man she had met through a mutual friend, was stalking her. Leavitt was even bold enough to accompany police when they entered Elg's home on July 21, 1984, finding Elg's body wrapped in the tattered rubber of what had been a waterbed. Within two months of his arrest, Leavitt was found guilty of first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon.

Following decades of appeals, Leavitt learned his fate on May 17, when a death warrant was issued, triggering a series of events that will lead to his scheduled execution on Tuesday, June 12, at 10 a.m.

"[On May 17] at 5 p.m., we moved inmate Leavitt into a holding cell of F block [the execution wing]," said Reinke.

The revised execution procedures will bring a number of changes to Idaho's second execution in less than a year but only the third since 1957.

"We have decided to use a fourth option [as a lethal injection]," said Reinke.

The option requires two syringes each carrying 2.5 grams of pentobarbital, which should result in a much quicker death.

"We've been tracking the same process in other states and it's almost 40 percent less time," said Reinke. "But the main reason we're using this process is the availability of the drug."

Reinke said select teams of IDOC employees have been running through execution practices ever since the November 2011 execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades.

"We never stopped our rehearsing," he said. "We need to be as prepared in June as we were in November."

And that rehearsing will continue past June.

"We could see another execution in another six or seven months. It's entirely possible," said Reinke.

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