A Botched Execution in Idaho Renews Scrutiny of Lethal Injection

Executioners in Idaho abandoned their attempt to use lethal injection on one of the nation’s longest-serving death row inmates on Wednesday after repeated tries to tap into a vein were unsuccessful.

Public defenders representing the inmate, Thomas Eugene Creech, and witnesses said that officials had tried to stick needles in each of Mr. Creech’s limbs before halting the effort. Mr. Creech’s death warrant was to expire at the end of the day, and he was returned to his cell.

It was Idaho’s first attempted execution in more than a decade.

The failure was the latest in a series of botched executions around the country, often stemming from executioners having trouble finding veins. Amid legal pressures, some states have been exploring alternatives, including nitrogen gas, and Idaho is among the states that recently approved the use of firing squads to carry out capital punishments.

After the botched execution, Mr. Creech’s lawyers filed a motion in federal court to halt further attempts to execute him and denounced the failures of the Idaho Department of Correction.

“We are angered but not surprised that the State of Idaho botched the execution of Thomas Creech today,” the lawyers said in a statement.

Mr. Creech, 73, was convicted of five murders and suspected of others. He has been in prison for 50 years and was sentenced to death in 1983 for the murder of David Jensen, a fellow inmate whom Mr. Creech attacked with a sock filled with batteries.

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