Image: Protesters outside penitentiary
Doug Dreyer  /  AP
From left, Larry Schrag, Phyllis Schrag and the Rev. Susan Omansen pray by candlelight for convicted killer Elijah Page's life to be spared outside the State Penitentiary on Wednesday.
updated 7/12/2007 3:31:28 AM ET 2007-07-12T07:31:28

A 25-year-old man was executed by lethal injection Wednesday for the torture and slaying of a teenager who was forced to drink hydrochloric acid in a robbery. It was the state’s first execution in 60 years.

Elijah Page gave up his appeals and asked to die for the 2000 murder of Chester Allan Poage, 19, who was also stabbed, kicked and bashed with large rocks in a torture session at a gulch in the Black Hills that lasted two to three hours.

Page, of Athens, Texas, died at 10:11 p.m. from a lethal injection administered at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

He had no last words, warden Doug Weber said.

Gov. Mike Rounds postponed Page’s execution last year over concerns that a 1984 state law requiring the use of a two-drug mixture could put prison officials at legal risk if they instead administered a three-drug combination that is now the standard.

State lawmakers amended the law to allow prison officials to use whatever lethal injection mixture they choose, clearing the way for the executions of Page and the state’s three other death row inmates to proceed.

Death penalty protesters gathered outside the penitentiary, displaying signs with sayings such as “Choose life for Page” and “End the death penalty.”

Two death penalty supporters’ signs said “Justice” and “Remember Chester.”

Right to appeal
Page is among a handful of people his age or younger put to death since capital punishment was reinstated in the United States in 1979. His case also is unusual because a judge, not a jury, imposed a death sentence — and he asked to die.

Page, who had been entitled to appeals that could have lasted many more years, still had the legal right to resume those petitions even moments before the execution.

Page of Athens, Texas, and another death row inmate, Briley Piper, 25, of Anchorage, Alaska, pleaded guilty to killing Poage in the Black Hills on March 13, 2000. A third man, Darrell Hoadley, 26, of Lead, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

According to testimony, the three killed Poage so there would be no witness to the robbery of Poage’s home in Spearfish, where they stole a truck and other items.

The last execution in South Dakota was in 1947, when George Sitts died in the electric chair for killing two law enforcement officers.

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