Carolyn Holly: My Vantage Point

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Covering an execution

Covering an execution

by Carolyn Holly

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBCarolyn

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 12, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 7:51 AM

Covering an execution is one of the more challenging assignments a reporter will face.

It’s a no win situation for a journalist. Someone is going to be put to death, and you are assigned to cover it.

With that in mind, I thought you might like to hear what this assignment was like for our reporters who covered the execution of convicted murderer Richard Leavitt.

The story: Richard Leavitt was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Danette Elg. Elg, a single woman was found stabbed to death in her Blackfoot, Idaho home in July of 1984.

Leavitt died at 10:25 a.m. on June 12th, 2012. The victim's sister and father witnessed the execution. Leavitt did not make a final statement.

Here are some quotes from KTVB staff who covered the execution.

Justin Corr was a standby media witness to the execution.

He arrived at the prison at 4:30 a.m. for live coverage. He found out around 7 a.m. that he would not be needed as a witness.

“This morning was unlike anything I’ve ever done. The mood was unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of as a reporter.”

“We talk about death all the time in this business. This is a case where we are planning on someone dying.”

Natalie Podgorski was in the Media Center outside the prison but on the prison campus.

Natalie was the first KTVB reporter to look into the history of this crime.

"When you know all the details it helps you paint a better picture and understand what the victim's family was going through today. It also helps you realize what Leavitt's family was going through because he maintained his innocence."

Doug Petcash anchored during the execution from the KTVB studio:

“For me, being in the studio I look at it as a solemn responsibility to present the facts as we know them so the public is fully informed.”

“With such an emotional issue, I strive to keep even the slightest hint of judgment out of my reporting. I just focus on the facts.”

“You remember how many people are affected by this especially those two families.”

Scott Evans covered his first execution.

He reported from the far side of the prison complex. He did live radio and TV cut-in's for over seven hours.

"There was no connection, no reason to be connected."

"As it was for the Idaho Department of Correction, it was business for us. I was removed from it. Now, it would had been a very different experience if I would have witnessed the execution."

"In the end, this was a story about coming to grips with death."

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