Las Vegas Sun

August 30, 2014

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Calambro execution set for tonight

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Kenny Guinn said today he doesn't see "any substantial evidence" to convene the state Pardons Board to delay an execution of killer Alvaro Calambro, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 9 tonight.

Guinn said he would meet later today with his legal adviser, Scott Scherer, on a request from Philippine officials who are asking for a reprieve on grounds that there's been a violation of international law.

The governor said, "You give this issue the time and thought process necessary." But he added he already had told the Philippine officials on Friday that he would not call the pardons board, of which he is chairman, into session.

On Saturday, Philippine officials faxed Guinn a new request to convene the pardons board in order to postpone the death date, saying Nevada had violated the Vienna Accords, an international agreement. The officials say the state should have notified the Philippine government when Calambro, who was born in that country, was arrested.

Sources at the Nevada Supreme Court said those arguments have been raised in at least two other states, but the executions were carried out.

Calambro, 25, wants to die, and he met with Philippine officials and his mother, Lydia, last week to tell them of his decision. He was quoted as saying, "Death will be my escape from life, from prison. There is no life here."

His mother carried a court appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which Friday rejected the petition to postpone the execution for Calambro, convicted of robbery and murder in the slaying of Peggy Crawford and Keith Christopher at a Reno-U-Haul business in January 1994.

This would be the first execution during Guinn's administration.

Calambro would be the eighth man put to death at the Nevada State Prison since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for capital punishment in the 1970s. All seven others have resisted last-minute appeals. The most recently executed person was Roderick Abetya on Oct. 5, 1998.

Nevada's Catholic bishops last week unsuccessfully appealed to Guinn for a stay in the execution.

A group opposing the death penalty will gather at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Carson City this evening and then head for the prison to stage a vigil for about one hour before the execution time. The Rev. Chuck Durante, who is leading the group, said, "The death penalty is more like revenge."

Members of Amnesty International also will be at the prison to protest the execution.

Calambro was transferred today from the cell in the general population to one designed for an inmate's final hours.

He will be given fresh clothing and, about an hour before the execution, he will receive a sedative to prevent any struggles at the last minute.

He will be wheeled into the death chamber strapped on a gurney.

An estimated 20 people, including relatives of the victims, law-enforcement officers and members of the news media, will witness the execution. Guards will draw the shades on the windows that separate the death chamber from the witness room, and needles will be inserted into Calambro.

The shades will be lifted as the drugs start to flow.

Sodium pentothal will first make Calambro unconscious, followed by a saline solution to clear the intravenous line. Pancuronium bromide comes next to stop the respiratory system, followed by potassium chloride to halt the heart.

The process usually takes less than 10 minutes.

Family of the victims scheduled to attend the execution are Clarence Crawford and his wife, Betty; their daughter, Carole Bommell, and her husband, Don; and George Christopher.

Clarence Crawford has been outspoken in complaining about the delays in the execution of Calambro. Every appeal hearing, he said, was like seeing his daughter die all over again. His family could start putting its life back together once Calambro is dead, he said.

Christopher, whose brother was murdered, said he hopes the execution "can help put the tragedy behind us."

Calambro's crime partner, Duc Cong Hunyh, who also was sentenced to death, hanged himself at the state maximum security prison in Ely. Duc had worked at the U-Haul business before being fired, and he blamed Crawford for the loss of his job.

The two men, who were armed, tied and gagged the victims. Christopher's head was crushed by a ball-peen hammer. Crawford's skull was impaled with a crowbar-tire iron, and $2,400 was stolen.

The two men went on a crime spree that reached the Hall of Records in Los Angeles, where they took a female security officer hostage before they surrendered.

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