July 12, 2007 / 4:28 AM / 12 years ago

South Dakota carries out 1st execution in 60 years

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Reuters) - South Dakota carried out its first execution in 60 years on Wednesday, putting to death a 25-year-old inmate convicted of torturing and killing a 19-year-old man following a robbery.

Officials at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls said Elijah Page was pronounced dead at 10:11 p.m. CDT (1501 GMT on Thursday) following an injection of lethal chemicals. He had waived all appeals and said he wanted to die.

Warden Doug Weber asked Page if he had any last words and he replied, “No.” Weber repeated the question and Page responded, “Yes, no last words,” officials said.

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.”

Page and two other men were convicted of killing Chester Poage in 2000 after stealing a car and other property from him, forcing him to drink acid and torturing him for two hours before he died. Page pleaded guilty.

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.

Page was originally scheduled to be executed a year ago but Gov. Mike Rounds ordered a halt because of a conflict between state law and prison execution protocol. The Legislature later amended the law so the execution could proceed.

It was the 1,087th execution in the United States since executions resumed in the United States in 1977.

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