Sivak ‘does not follow the rules,’ Idaho corrections official says

The state wants to send Lacey Sivak to prison for life.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comAugust 27, 2013 

sivak, death row, life sentence, murder, dixie wilson,

Lacey Sivak talks to defense attorney Elisa Massoth during a break Monday in his fifth sentencing hearing for the 1981 murder of gas station clerk Dixie Wilson.


During more than three decades on death row, Lacey Sivak, 54, has repeatedly violated prison rules. He has constantly lied, manipulated corrections officers and concealed contraband even when he knew he would be searched, say a prison warden and two other corrections officials.

As a judge weighs Sivak’s murder sentence for a fifth time, Ada County prosecutors laid out a case Monday saying Sivak cannot be trusted to live outside of prison walls without getting into trouble again.

Sivak was convicted of murder and burglary in the April 6, 1981, shooting and stabbing death of Garden City gas station clerk Dixie Wilson. Four times he was sentenced to death and four times that sentence was overturned — the last when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that two jailhouse informants lied about receiving help with their legal troubles in exchange for testifying against Sivak.

Fourth District Ada County Judge Ron Wilper is hearing the multi-day sentencing case. The prosecution rested Monday afternoon and the defense called one witness, a doctor who has treated Sivak for bladder cancer over the past two years. Defense attorney Robert Chastain said he expects to wrap up his case by early Tuesday afternoon.

Closing arguments and an address by Sivak are scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The prosecution is seeking a life sentence this time. It would match the sentence given to co-defendant Randall Bainbridge back in 1981.

Randy Blades, who spent 10 years monitoring Sivak as a death row corrections officer and maximum security prison warden, testified Monday that Sivak has racked up 113 formal behavior violations during the 32 years he has spent in prison.

“I’d say 113 is in the top 1 percent,” said Blades, currently the warden of the medium-security Idaho State Correctional Institution in Kuna. “It’s a total disregard of rules and even sanctions themselves.”

Thirty-one of the violations took place when Sivak refused to obey orders from corrections staff. Fourteen were for possessing contraband and seven were for weapons violations.

The violations did not include incidents that did not lead to a formal report.

The number was more than what is typical for other long-term inmates, who get tired to trying to buck the system, Blades said. Death row inmates, especially, try to stay out of trouble so it looks better during the long appeals process.

“Typically, they like to keep a clean slate so that isn’t on their record,” Blades said.

State corrections Lt. Gretchen Woodland said Sivak was frequently found to have contraband in his underwear or other clothing, even when he was going to court or another place where he knew he would be searched.

“He was mostly not honest. He does not follow the rules,” said Woodland, as Sivak smiled and raised his head up and down from the defense table. “I’d be concerned for him to be in public.”

Lt. Jacqueline Todd testified that Sivak accused her and other corrections officers of breaking his possessions, including a television set, an alarm clock and a watch. She said she discovered Sivak registered the same complaint about his TV two years before, that he could only switch channels in one direction.

Prosecutors complained at one point Monday that Sivak was staring at Wilson’s family members in the audience. Wilper had Sivak move to a different seat at the defense table, but declined to issue a formal order about Sivak’s behavior.

“Please be respectful and I’ll leave it at that,” Wilper said.

Earlier Monday, one witness recounted seeing Wilson with Sivak and Bainbridge at the Baird Oil gas station early on the morning of the murder, and others found her bleeding profusely and gasping for air from the floor of a back room.

Other witnesses told how Wilson’s murder still affects her husband, Harry, and the couple’s six children and step-children.

Former Ada County Coroner Mike Johnson testified that Wilson was shot five times in the head and stabbed 20 times in the head and right shoulder. She died hours later at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

Hear James Bell testify Monday:

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