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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

Alabama death row inmate loses state appeal, days after federal court says he can't be executed

Vernon Madison
Vernon Madison
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday denied the appeal of Alabama Death Row inmate Vernon Madison, just two days after a federal court said he was incompetent and couldn't be executed anyway.

Madison, 66, is one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates. He was convicted in the April 1985 slaying of Mobile police Cpl. Julius Schulte.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in December denied Madison's appeal that his sentence was unconstitutional under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from a case (Hurst v. Florida) in January 2016. The court ruled that juries, not judges, should decide whether a capital murder defendant is eligible for the death penalty.

Alabama authorities say that Alabama's law is different. While Alabama judges can decide to override jury recommendations for life without parole and instead impose the death penalty, the juries first decide whether aggravating circumstances exist to make a case death penalty eligible with their unanimous guilty verdict.

Madison's lawyers appealed the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday, with Justice Glenn Murdock dissenting, denied Madison's petition for certiorari (or review).

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday had ruled that Madison is mentally incompetent and can't be executed.

Last May the appeals court halted Madison's execution, hours before he was set to die, in order to consider his appeal of a state court's ruling that he was competent to be executed.

Madison was convicted and sentenced to death in both 1985 and 1990, but both times an appellate court sent the case back, first for a violation involving race-based jury selection and then based on improper testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution.

A doctor hired by Madison's attorneys with the Equal Justice Initiative, Dr. John Goff, had testified at a state competency trial in 2016 that Madison does not understand why he is being executed or the act for which he is being punished, according to the 11th Circuit opinion.

Madison has suffered strokes resulting in significant cognitive and physical decline, according to the appeals court ruling.

Source: al.com, Kent Faulk, March 17, 2017

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