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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…

Japan: Court upholds acquittal for man sentenced to death for arson-murders

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court has upheld a lower court decision that acquitted a man who had previously been sentenced to death for murdering his daughter-in-law and her son before setting fire to their apartment in Osaka in 2002.

Takemitsu Mori, a 59-year-old prison guard on administrative leave, was acquitted by the Osaka District Court in March 2012 after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial by repealing a high court decision that sentenced him to death, a rare decision by the country’s highest court.

The focus of the case was what to make of circumstantial evidence presented by prosecutors, while the defendant consistently denied the charges, saying he had never entered the apartment of the woman and her son.

Presiding Judge Shinichiro Fukuzaki rejected the prosecutor’s claim that Mori has been to the apartment because he knew the location of furniture in their apartment. The judge said the defendant could have assumed the room arrangement from conversations with his family after the incident.

Mori was arrested in November 2002, seven months after Mayumi Mori, 28, and her 1-year-old son Toma were found dead in their apartment in Osaka’s Hirano Ward on April 14 that year. The woman was found strangled and her son drowned.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court rejected both the life sentence handed down by a district court and the death penalty by a high court, judging it necessary to see facts that can only be explained if the defendant had in fact committed the crime.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Osaka District Court found Mori not guilty, saying there was no evidence that proved the defendant had entered the apartment on the day of the incident.

In the latest examination at the high court, a DNA analysis of a dog harness, claimed by prosecutors to be the murder weapon, was conducted but did not find any link to Mori.

The prosecutors requested a review of the lower court’s acquittal as saliva found on a cigarette butt discovered in a staircase at the apartment matched Mori’s DNA and an eyewitness saw a car of the same type and color as Mori’s near the apartment.

The defense counsel asked the court to reject the appeal, arguing that the court was presented with no credible evidence showing that the cigarette butt was discarded on the day of the incident.

Source: Japan Today, March 3, 2017

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