Update: March 15 (RNS) California has executed a convicted killer whose request to perform a religious last rite at a sweat lodge on prison grounds wasrejected by a district court judge March 13.

Darrell Rich, 45, died early Wednesday, March 15. He had beenconvicted of murdering three women and killing an 11-year-old girl byhurling her more than 100 feet from a bridge in the late 1970s, theAssociated Press reported.

March 14 (RNS) -- Lawyers for a man on California's death row appealed afederal judge's decision to deny his request to perform a religious last rite at a Native American sweat lodge on prison grounds.

Darrell Rich, who is part Cherokee, wanted to participate in a sweatlodge ceremony because it was "critical for making amends and preparingto meet my Maker, my ancestors, and those person I have harmed during mytime on Earth," he said.

"It's a simple proposition," said his lawyer, James Thomason. "Itreally is a matter of whether or not you can let this man go to churchbefore he is executed."

But state officials said they are concerned about safety during thesweat lodge ceremony, in which fire-heated rocks are doused with wateras participants pray. The ceremony is supposed to purify the spirit.

Becauses Rich might be unrestrained and would have access to ashovel and a rake during the ceremony, granting his request would be "aformula for disaster," said Dannette Valdez, a deputy attorney general.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed the safety concerns ofprison officials were valid, and concluded Rich was treated as well asany inmate of another faith.

Rich's request for clemency from California Gov. Gray Davis wasrejected on Friday, March 10.

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