Thomas Creech: Idaho 'serial killer' denied clemency to remain state's longest-serving prisoner

Thomas Creech: Idaho 'serial killer' denied clemency to remain state's longest-serving prisoner
Thomas Creech has been housed in Idaho’s maximum security prison on death row for 40 years (Idaho Department of Correction)

Warning: This article contains a recollection of crime and can be triggering to some, readers’ discretion advised.

BOISE, IDAHO: Idaho's state parole board delivered a decisive blow to Thomas Creech's plea for clemency on Monday, January 29, ensuring that he will remain the longest-serving death row prisoner in the state.

During a formal hearing earlier this month with the Commission of Pardons and Parole, Creech, convicted of five murders, including the savage beating death of fellow inmate David Dale Jensen in 1981, sought permission to succumb to natural causes.

Thomas Creech's guilty plea for self-defense overruled in face of murder charges

The 73-year-old Creech, convicted of five murders, three of which occurred in Idaho, pleaded guilty to Jensen's murder in 1981, citing self-defense. However, the prosecution argued otherwise, presenting evidence of a brutal beating involving a sock filled with batteries.

Despite Creech's request for a reduced sentence to life in prison, the parole board's 3-3 deadlock upheld his death sentence, citing the cold-blooded nature of Jensen's murder and the extensive list of victims attributed to Creech. 

“We do not believe Mr Creech is worthy of grace or mercy,” three unnamed parole board members said.

“This decision was based on the coldblooded nature of David Dale Jensen’s murder and the sheer number of victims that Mr Creech has created over his lifetime, which shows that he does not place value on human life, other than his own,” Spokesman reported.

Gov Brad Little, with the final authority on clemency decisions, emphasized Creech's status as a convicted serial killer responsible for extreme violence, stating that justice must be served as ordered by the court.

“Thomas Creech is a convicted serial killer responsible for acts of extreme violence,” said Little. “As governor, I have zero intention of taking any action that would halt or delay Creech’s execution. His lawful and just sentence must be carried out as ordered by the court. Justice has been delayed long enough.”

A diverse group of advocates supported Creech's bid for a reduced sentence, including former state prison workers, a current corrections officer, a former state lawmaker, and the Ada County judge who initially sentenced Creech to death.

“For me, Tom has become a living symbol for the problems with the death penalty,” former state Rep Donna Boe, who served from 1996 to 2010, penned in Creech’s clemency petition.

“I have no doubt that he has changed and grown as a person, that he has true care and concern for others including the staff who work at the prison, and that an execution would be a tragic waste of life.”

Thomas Creech's criminal history

Creech's past convictions and suspected murders add a layer of complexity to the case. Longhurst detailed a razor blade assault on another prisoner just months before Jensen's murder, and Creech's initial conviction in 1974 for a double murder, later reduced to life in prison.

The prosecution claimed Creech's responsibility for at least 11 murders, including the stabbing death of a 70-year-old man in Arizona and an unsolved shooting in San Bernardino County, California.

Creech's defense labeled the allegations as "troubling" and "irresponsible," urging the parole commission to consider his present character.

As the legal battle unfolds, Deborah A Czuba, supervising attorney for the Federal Defender Services' death penalty unit, expressed, "We are confident the parole commission will see through the prosecutors’ ruse and judge Mr Creech based on the man he is in 2024, whose execution would accomplish nothing but more death and devastation."

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