South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds on Tuesday halted the execution of the state’s first prison inmate in 59 years just hours before it was scheduled. Elijah Page, 24, had waived his appeals and asked to be executed for the torture slaying of a Spearfish man six years ago. A spokesman for the governor had said earlier that Rounds had no plans to intercede. But Tuesday afternoon Rounds delayed the execution and said he would talk about his decision at a news conference.
The last execution in South Dakota was in 1947, when George Sitts died in the electric chair for killing two law enforcement officers. Earlier this year, Page persuaded a judge to let him fire his lawyer and face the executioner for his role in the 2000 slaying of Chester Allan Poage, 19. Page and two other young men killed Poage in the Black Hills so that there would be no witness to the theft of a Chevy Blazer, stereo, television and other items from the victim’s home. Poage was tortured for hours before he was killed.