execution//volunteer Aug 14, 2006 3:44:50 GMT -5
Post by Anja on Aug 14, 2006 3:44:50 GMT -5
Montana executes triple murderer by injection
Triple murderer David Dawson was put to death by lethal injection at
Montana State Prison at 12:06 a.m. on Friday.
Dawson, 57, had said he wanted to die and for 2 years disavowed all
efforts to postpone his execution or reduce his death sentence for the
strangulation murders of three members of a family in a motel in Billings,
Montana 20 years ago.
A coalition of the American Civil Liberties Union, church groups and
others made a last-ditch attempt to stop Dawson's execution, arguing in
state and federal courts that Montana's method of lethal injection is
cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the state and federal
Coalition lawyers argued the combination of the three drugs administered
in a lethal injection execution could cause excruciating pain because
Montana does not require the executioner to have medical training.
State District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock rebuffed the coalition on Thursday,
saying in a ruling he was "unfamiliar with any case where a court has
stopped an execution where the person who is about to be executed was not
involved as a party."
"If this case goes forward, resulting in the execution of Dawson,
plaintiffs will have suffered no real concrete injury," Sherlock wrote in
"They will be free to continue to challenge Montana's death penalty
The state supreme court declined to take up an appeal.
Dawson was convicted in 1987 and sentenced to death for kidnapping,
drugging and strangling to death David and Monica Rodstein, both 39, and
their 11-year-old son, Andrew, in April 1986. The couple's daughter Amy
Rodstein, then 15, survived after being held captive for 2 days.
She testified against Dawson in court.
' Dawson had no final statement.
Dawson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Montana this
year and the 3rd since the state resumed capital punishment in 1995.
Dawson becomes the 35th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1039th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Reuters & Rick Halperin)
Man convicted of 3 murders executed in Montana
After weeks of legal wrangling over whether lethal injection can cause a
painful death, 3-time murderer David Dawson took a deep breath early this
morning, snored once, and was pronounced dead 6 minutes after the drugs
that killed him began flowing into his veins.
To Bill Rust, Dawson's execution was a formality.
"He's been dead in my heart a long time," said Rust, who raised
then-15-year-old Amy Rodstein after Dawson killed her parents and little
brother in 1986, and who witnessed Dawson's death.
Dawson kidnapped the Rodstein family and strangled David and Monica, and
11-year-old Andrew, in his Billings, Mont., motel room. The family was
staying at the motel during a move. Police rescued Amy Rodstein from
Dawson's room 2 days later.
The execution took place against a backdrop of debates in courts around
the country about the constitutionality of lethal injection. Some states
have put executions on hold until it can be decided whether the lethal
injection, designed as a humane alternative to methods like hanging and
electrocution, poses too great a risk of a cruel death.
Rust said that court challenges during the last few days frustrated him.
"I think some of those activists out there should mind their own
business," he said.
She did not attend his execution, but sent a letter read by Dennis
Paxinos, the deputy Yellowstone County attorney who prosecuted Dawson's
1987 trial. Paxinos witnessed the execution.
"20 years ago I experienced a horrific event whose ramifications recently
came to a conclusion...I have chosen not to live life as a victim," she
wrote. In another letter, also read by Paxinos, she wrote that the best
way to honor her murdered family was to enjoy the day with her own husband
Dawson asked only one person to witness the execution on his behalf, Patsy
Golden of Missoula, a longtime family friend who corresponded with him
throughout his nearly 2 decades in prison. 2 years ago, Dawson fired his
attorneys and sought to end all appeals on his behalf.
Nonetheless, a coalition of civil liberties and religious groups tried
court after court in the weeks leading to his execution. The groups, led
by the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that lethal injection, if
done improperly, can cause an "excruciatingly painful" death.
But the courts, citing Dawson's wish to die, said the groups had no right
As a nearly full moon rose over the low hills surrounding the prison, and
heat lightning struck in the darkening sky, members of the groups held a
vigil on the windswept prairie. 2 people who support the death penalty
Inside the house trailer that serves as Montana's execution chamber,
Dawson lay on a gurney, his arms outstretched and an intravenous line in
each one. A white sheet covered his orange prison uniform.
At precisely midnight, Montana State Prison Warden Mike Mahoney entered.
He asked if Dawson wanted to say anything.
"No," Dawson replied.
The lethal injection was given and Dawson snored at 12:01 a.m. His chest
rose and fell; he lifted his right index finger. Then, his fingers curled
loosely into his palms and he was still.
(source: USA Today)