On October 18, 2023, the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole delayed the scheduled execution for Thomas Creech in order to provide him with a full clemency hearing. A date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled. An Ada County, Idaho judge previously issued a death warrant for Mr. Creech, who has been on death row for nearly 44 years, setting his execution for November 8, 2023. The Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) announced that they have secured the appropriate drugs to carry out a lethal injection execution, despite having had issues obtaining the drugs in the past.

Mr. Creech is serving a life sentence for a double murder committed in 1974 and was later convicted of killing a fellow prisoner in 1981. After pleading guilty to the in-prison murder, Mr. Creech, now 73, was sentenced to death and has now spent more than half his life on Idaho’s death row. The state has not executed anyone since 2012 but has set three execution dates for Gerald Pizzuto since 2021, despite not having the drugs required by Idaho’s lethal injection guidelines. In response to limited drug access, Governor Brad Little signed legislation in March 2023 that would permit use of the firing squad if the state was unable to obtain lethal injection drugs.

Mr. Creech’s attorneys have filed a petition for clemency with the state parole board to commute his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole. The petition outlines the reasons why Mr. Creech should have a full clemency hearing and his sentence should be commuted. Retired Judge Robert Newhouse, who originally sentenced Mr. Creech to death, told attorneys for Mr. Creech that “no purpose would be served by executing [him] now” after more than 40 years of incarceration. For Judge Newhouse, executing Mr. Creech would “just be an act of vengeance,” rather than one of justice.

Former Ada County Prosecutor Jim Harris prosecuted Mr. Creech for Jensen’s murder. He told the Idaho Statesman that he generally agreed with Judge Newhouse’s perspective because the capital punishment system in place has for decades shown itself to be ineffective — and a substantial drain on taxpayers. DA Harris also said he didn’t oppose Mr. Creech receiving a clemency review. “He’s an old man now, but he’s still Tom Creech,” Harris said. “I agree with the judge that as long as he’s carefully watched, there’s no real ethical reason to kill him now. By the same token, I’m still concerned he might kill someone else.”

The clemency petition describes how Mr. Creech has befriended prisoners and prison staff, and outlines stories of his acts of kindness, leadership, and religiosity. The petition argues that by carrying out Mr. Creech’s execution, the state is unnecessarily traumatizing individuals who will be responsible for seeing someone they have grown to care about executed. Many former IDOC employees confirmed Mr. Creech’s exemplary prison record, as well as his respect and cooperativeness with guards and prison staff. Importantly, Mr. Creech has expressed great remorse for taking another life. His “remorse is not the product of a newfound desire for clemency,” according to the petition, “but rather a longstanding conviction borne of deep reflection” and Christian faith.

In a signed declaration written just a day before his death warrant was issued, Mr. Creech said “I regret killing David Jensen more than anything I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “I’ve changed a lot since 1981. I’m not the person I was. I believe I’ve touched a lot of hearts in the last 40 years. If my sentence were commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, I would do my best to continue having a positive impact on people’s lives.”


Kevin Fixler, Death war­rant signed for longest-serv­ing Idaho death row inmate for November exe­cu­tion, Idaho Statesman, October 14, 2023; KTVB Staff, Attorneys for death row inmate Thomas Creech request hear­ing to com­mute his sen­tence, KTVB, October 16, 2023; Kevin Fixler, Idaho’s first exe­cu­tion in 11 years delayed as parole board grants inmate clemen­cy review, Idaho Statesman, October 182023.