Idaho prison officials executed Paul Ezra Rhoades on Friday for his role in the 1987 murders of two women, marking the state’s first execution in 17 years.
The 54-year-old Rhoades was declared dead at 8:15 a.m. PST at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution after being administered three separate drugs that make up the state’s new lethal injection protocol.
The execution had been scheduled for 7 a.m. PDT but was delayed by over an hour because of a review of a motion filed late Thursday in 4th District Court.
Rhoades was convicted in the kidnapping and murders of 34-year-old Susan Michelbacher and 21-year-old Stacy Baldwin. He was also sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 20-year-old Nolan Haddon.
The killings occurred during a three-week span in the winter of 1987. Prosecutors said he snatched Michelbacher, a special education teacher, into his van, raped her, shot her nine times and continued the sexual assault either as she lay dying or after she was already dead.
Baldwin died in similar fashion. The newlywed and convenience store worker was abducted at gunpoint and taken to a remote area where he tried to sexually assault her. She fought back, and as she was scrambling away on all fours, he shot her twice and left her to die alone in the snow.
Rhoades, an Idaho Falls native, was the first Idaho inmate to be executed since 1994 and the only person to be involuntarily put to death in the state since 1957. The last inmate to be executed, Keith Eugene Wells, gave up all of his remaining appeals and asked the state to carry out his lethal injection.
The execution was witnessed by representatives of all three of the victims’ families, Rhoades’ mother, Paula Rhoades, and four members of Idaho media. The execution was also the target of protests by capital punishment activists outside the prison south of Boise. (AP)