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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…

Florida Man Exonerated of Murder and Released from Death Row

Ralph Wright Jr.
Ralph Wright Jr. (left)
Ralph Wright Jr. was exonerated and released from Florida’s death row on Tuesday after a circuit court acquitted him of a 2007 double murder.

In May, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove Wright was guilty of the murders and remanded the case back to the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court with instructions that Wright be acquitted.

Wright was convicted in 2014 of the murder of his ex-girlfriend and their 15-month -old son. 

No physical evidence linked Wright to the crime and there was no indication he was in the area at the time. 

Prosecutors said a single glove left at the scene belonged to Wright, but no DNA evidence linked the glove to him.

Wright was found guilty, nonetheless, with the jury voting 7-5 to recommend the death penalty. 

Governor Rick Scott has since signed into law a bill requiring that a jury vote be unanimous in order to recommend the death penalty.

“There is no fingerprint, footprint, blood, fiber pattern impression or other physical evidence tying Wright to the crime scene,” the Florida Supreme Court wrote. “There is no cell tower evidence placing him in the vicinity of the crime scene. There is no murder weapon. The only evidence presented by the state to prove that Wright was the murderer is the fact that he had motive and opportunity. But while motive and opportunity might create a suspicion that Wright committed the murders, even deep suspicions are not sufficient to sustain the convictions.”

Wright is the 27th person to be exonerated from Florida’s death row and the 159th person in the nation to be exonerated from death row since 1973.

“Ralph Wright, Jr.’s exoneration is the most recent reminder that Florida’s death penalty system not only devalues life but also imperils innocent lives too,” Brian Empric with Florida Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty said, according to Florida Politics.

➤ Read the coverage here and here.

Source: Innocence Project, Innocence Staff, July 20, 2017

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