First execution in South Dakota in 60 years set for 10 pm

Elijah Page
Elijah Page is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Chester Allen Poage.
Courtesy Rapid City Journal

Elijah Page will spend the day in a special cell located near the execution chamber and away from death row. He'll be allowed visits from family and friends up to 4:00 p.m. His lawyer and a member of the clergy are allowed to stay until 9:00 p.m. His request for a last meal will be granted.

Outside the penitentiary, protestors are expected to pray quietly and sing songs. Several churches in Sioux Falls will hold prayer services at the time of the execution.

Elijah Page was one of three men involved in the robbery, kidnapping and murder of Chester Allen Poage seven years ago. Page pleaded guilty to the crime and a judge sentenced him to death by lethal injection.

A video interview of Elijah Page available in court documents shows Page as he tells investigators that the group planned on robbing Poage and letting him go.

South Dakota's execution chamber
South Dakota's execution chamber
Courtesy South Dakota Department of Corrections

"We weren't set on killing him when we first got up here," says Page as he walks around the site where Poage was killed. "We were just going to make him run in the snow like back to town or back to wherever. Then it was said that once he got back to town he would tell so we couldn't let him go."

Page did tell investigators they thought about drowning Poage in beer.

But instead the crime was much worse.

Lawrence County State's Attorney John Fitzgerald prosecuted the case. He asked the judge for the death sentence and will witness the execution. Fitzgerald says Page and the others made Poage drink acid and tortured the healthy 19 year old.

"He was basically mutilated alive. While they were kicking him his ears off the side of his head on both sides of his head. He was just a strong individual and endured a tremendous amount of pain and suffering before he finally died," says Fitzgerald.

Elijah Page gave up his appeals and has asked to die. His lawyer says the execution will be called off if Page changes his mind.

Gov. Mike Rounds, has not commented on the scheduled execution.

Last August he delayed a previous date set for Page's execution due to a conflict in state law. The South Dakota Legislature rewrote the law during the 2007 session.

Besides Elijah Page there are three other men on South Dakota's death row.

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