By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole on Wednesday morning granted a request from Thomas Creech for a commutation hearing in a move that delays his scheduled execution.
Ashley Dowell, Executive Director for the Commission of Pardons and Parole told Idaho Reports there is still internal discussion about scheduling the hearing and she did not have a proposed date yet.
The decision puts a pause on Creech’s Nov. 8 execution that was scheduled after a judge issued his death warrant.
Deborah Czuba, supervising attorney of the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Defender Services of Idaho, said through a press release that Creech was granted a stay of execution by Ada County Judge Jason D. Scott.
Creech, 73, has been on death row since 1983 for the beating death of fellow inmate David Jensen in 1981.
At the commutation hearing, Creech’s attorneys are expected to argue that he not the same man he was when incarcerated 40 years ago. They are asking his sentence be changed to life in prison without parole.
The Parole Commission will make a recommendation to the governor regarding the request for commutation, but the governor is not required to follow the recommendation.
A copy of the petition requesting a hearing includes a statement from Creech’s initial sentencing judge. Judge Robert Newhouse repeatedly sentenced Creech to death for Jensen’s killing, even after appeals. But, in the petition for a clemency hearing filed last week, Newhouse has changed his stance on the case. Newhouse now believes that a sentence of life in prison without parole would be an adequate punishment.
In 2021, the commission recommended granting a commutation for another man on death row, Gerald Pizzuto Jr., and Gov. Brad Little immediately denied the recommendation. Pizzuto still has pending federal appeals and has not been executed.
As of Friday morning, a date for Creech’s hearing had not been set.