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Idaho halts execution after problems inserting IV line

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The execution by lethal injection of a convicted serial killer in Idaho was halted on Wednesday after a medical team was unable to insert an intravenous line.

Thomas Creech, 73, was strapped to a table in the execution chamber for an hour as repeated attempts were made to set an IV line to deliver the lethal drugs, prison officials and witnesses said.

Creech was one of two convicted murderers scheduled to be executed in the United States on Wednesday.

The other, Ivan Cantu, 50, was put to death in Texas by lethal injection for a double murder he insisted he did not commit.

The doubts about Cantu’s guilt had drawn attention to his case from the Catholic Church and a number of celebrities including Kim Kardashian and “West Wing” star Martin Sheen.

Idaho Department of Corrections director Josh Tewalt said Creech’s execution was called off after the failure of eight attempts to set an IV line in his arms and legs.

“We don’t have an idea of timeframes or next steps at this point,” Tewalt told reporters at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution south of the capital Boise. “Those are things we will be discussing in the days ahead.”

Brenda Rodriguez, a reporter with the local KTVB television station, said Creech did not appear to have been in severe pain at any point although he did tell the medical staff at one stage that his “legs hurt a bit.”

“At the very end, when the execution was halted, he was just looking up,” said Rodriguez, one of four media witnesses. “it felt like he was almost in relief.”

Creech, who has been on Death Row for more than 40 years and was to have been the first person executed in Idaho in 12 years, was sentenced to die for murdering his cellmate in 1981 with a battery-filled sock.

He was imprisoned at the time after being convicted of five other murders, although he claimed to have committed dozens more.

There have been a number of botched executions in the United States in recent years, including a failed attempt in Alabama in November 2022 to execute convicted killer Kenneth Smith by lethal injection.

Smith was eventually put to death in January of this year in the first execution in the country to be carried out using nitrogen gas.

Most of the botched executions have involved difficulties in inserting the IV needles that deliver the lethal drugs, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.


– ‘I never killed James and Amy’ –


Cantu, the Texas inmate, was convicted in 2001 of the murders of his cousin James Mosqueda and Amy Kitchen, Mosqueda’s fiancee, who were shot to death.

In a final statement before his execution, Cantu addressed the Mosqueda and Kitchen families and again proclaimed his innocence, Amanda Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said.

“I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy,” Cantu said. “If I knew who did, you would’ve been the first to know any information I would’ve had.”

Cantu’s then-fiancee, Amy Boettcher, who has since died, testified at his trial that he had admitted committing the murders and took her to Mosqueda’s home afterward to look for hidden drugs and cash.

Among the evidence submitted at the trial was a pair of jeans with blood from the victims that was found in Cantu’s kitchen trash can.

Lawyers for Cantu maintained that Boettcher lied on the witness stand and the jeans, which were too large for Cantu, were planted in the trash can.

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Kardashian, who has been active in prison reform, and Sheen, an opponent of the death penalty, had urged that Cantu’s execution be called off because of the doubts about his guilt.

A petition urging Texas Governor Greg Abbott to grant a stay of execution attracted some 150,000 signatures.

Capital punishment has been abolished in 23 US states, while the governors of six others — Arizona, California, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — have put a hold on its use.

There were 24 executions in the United States in 2023, all of them carried out by lethal injection.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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