Idaho v. LeavittAnnotate this Case
Appellant Richard Leavitt appealed his death warrant. He also appealed the district court's denial of his motion to quash the death warrant. In 1984, Appellant brutally attacked, sexually mutilated and murdered a 31-year-old woman in Blackfoot, in which a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. In 1989, the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, but reversed the death sentence because the trial court failed to weigh all the mitigating factors against the statutory aggravating factor that the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel manifesting in exceptional depravity. On remand, the district court held another sentencing hearing and again sentenced Appellant to death. The warrant was issued in 1992, with a scheduled date of execution 23 days later. The United States Supreme Court granted Appellant's stay of execution. In 2000, Appellant was granted the writ of habeas corpus because of an improper jury instruction and ordered the State to retry Appellant. The State appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reversed the habeas order. The case was remanded to determine whether Appellant's resentencing hearing in 1989 violated his constitutional rights. In 2007 on remand, the district court again granted habeas relief. The State appealed in 2011, and the Ninth Circuit again reversed the habeas order. In 2012, Appellant filed a motion for relief from judgment; the Ninth Circuit issued a mandate automatically lifting any stay previously imposed by the habeas court. The habeas court denied Appellant's motion, and denied his request for a stay of execution. Appellant's appeal of that order was pending before the Ninth Circuit, but anticipating the issuance of a new death warrant, he filed notice of Demand for Opportunity to be Heard regarding the Issuance of the Death Warrant in Idaho district court. The court denied the motion because at that time, no stay of execution or death warrant was then pending before any court. Subsequently, the court signed Appellant's death warrant and scheduled his execution. Appellant raised multiple challenges to each procedural stage of his case, from sentencing, habeas relief, constitutional rights violations and the eventual signing of his death warrant. Taking all in turn, the Supreme Court found no errors arising from this case's journey to the Idaho Supreme Court. Accordingly the Court affirmed the district court and declined to stay Appellant's execution.