FEATURED POST

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

Image
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: Lawyer calls aborted execution attempt for Doyle Lee Hamm 'torture'

Court file photo of Doyle Lee Hamm's veins prior to the execution
Armed with a court order, a doctor will examine an Alabama death-row inmate on Sunday for signs of injury or suffering sustained during an aborted execution last week.

Prison officials said they called off a lethal injection for Doyle Lee Hamm, convicted in the 1987 murder of a hotel clerk, on Thursday night because they didn't have enough time to carry it out before a death warrant expired at midnight.

"I wouldn't necessarily characterize what we had tonight as a problem," Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn told reporters, blaming last-minute appeals for the delay.

But Hamm's attorney said the execution attempt was badly botched, with the prison team repeatedly jabbing the cancer survivor in the legs with needles in a futile effort to find a usable vein.

The 2 members of the IV team - each working on a different side of the body - flipped Hamm onto his stomach to search for access points on the back of his leg, lawyer Bernard Harcourt said a statement.

When that failed, Harcourt said in court papers, the IV team tried to place what's known as a central line into a larger vein.

"Multiple times, they tried to insert a catheter into Doyle Hamm's right groin, causing severe bleeding and pain," Harcourt wrote.

When Harcourt was able to meet with his client Friday afternoon, Hamm was bruised and limping, the lawyer said.

"This went beyond ghoulish justice and cruel and unusual punishment," Harcourt, a Columbia Law professor, said in a statement. "It was torture."

Harcourt went to federal court and convinced a judge to order a medical exam for Hamm, who has been on death row for 30 years.

The lawyer also wanted to examine the execution chamber and the notes prison workers took during the procedure, but the judge turned him down.

She did, however, order the Department of Corrections to preserve the notes and any other material from the execution try, including the clothing Hamm was wearing.

All prisoners have a constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, with the courts deciding if a particular execution is likely to violate that.

Before Thursday, Harcourt had warned that due to Hamm's history of drug abuse and his illnesses, it would be impossible to find good veins to deliver the deadly drugs.

A judge ruled the execution could proceed as long as the IV wasn't inserted in Hamm's arms. The U.S. Supreme Court, with three justices dissenting, then declined to stop the lethal injection.

Prison officials have given few details about what went on in the death chamber before Hamm got a reprieve, and they did not respond to a request for comment this weekend.

A new execution date has not been set, but Dunn told reporters Thursday that he did not think the trouble the team had finding a vein would prevent the state from killing Hamm in the future.

"The only indication I have is that in their medical judgement it was more of a time issue, given the late hour," he said.

3 months ago, Ohio called off the execution of Alva Campbell after the medical team tried for 30 minutes to find a good vein without success.

And in 2009, another Ohio inmate, Romell Broom, was spared after the execution worked for two hours to insert a needle. In appeals, he's argued a second attempt would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Source: NBC News, February 25


Death row inmate's lawyer calls execution attempt 'botched'; judge cancels Monday review


Doyle Lee Hamm
The attorney for a death row inmate who was set to be executed Thursday night is calling the attempt "botched," and a federal judge has cancelled a hearing she had set up to review what happened.

Court records entered Friday show a hearing was set for Monday in U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O Bowdre's court.

She ordered Doyle Lee Hamm to undergo a full medical examination on Saturday, and those results must be given to the court by Monday morning. The judge also ordered the state to preserve all evidence that could be relevant to the matter, including the clothing Hamm was wearing Thursday night when he was preparing to be executed.

But on Friday afternoon Bowdre partially rescinded her order, canceling Monday's hearing and lifting the requirement for the doctor conducting the examination to file a written report by 9 a.m. Monday.

Doyle Lee Hamm was set to be executed Thursday at 6 p.m. by lethal injection. He was granted a temporary stay by the U.S. Supreme Court before 6 p.m., but that stay was vacated just after 9 p.m. and the court cleared the way for 61-year-old Hamm to be put to death. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn announced they wouldn't be executing Hamm that night, because medical personnel would not be able to prepare him for the procedure by midnight when the death warrant expired.

Death warrants expire at midnight, meaning no execution can be started past 11:59 p.m. on the date specified on the warrant.

Dunn did not specify what exactly the problem was and what medical personnel had been doing for more than 2 hours between when the stay was lifted and when medical personnel advised officials on the situation.

Bernard Harcourt, Hamm's longtime attorney and a professor of law and political science at Columbia University, said on Twitter Thursday night, "they probably couldn't find a vein and had been poking him for over 2 1/2 hours.... as I had told them since July! Unconscionable. Simply unconscionable."

Harcourt had argued to courts that Hamm had cancer and his veins could not support the lethal injection. A federal judge in Birmingham on Tuesday issued an order saying the execution could proceed, provided the state used veins in Hamm's lower extremities and did not attempt to use veins in his arms - a procedure the state had never tried before. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that order.

During the arguments the Alabama Attorney General's office stated an independent medical examiner's report showed that, contrary to claims made on Hamm's behalf, the veins in his legs were suitable and and presented no obstacle to the execution.

Early Friday morning, Harcourt called the execution attempt "botched." He said, "The Alabama attorney general, the Alabama Governor, the Governor's General Counsel, and the Alabama Commissioner of Corrections, should resign. Look at their statements before the attempted execution, and compare that to what happened with the botched attempted executions. They should assume responsibility, or resign."

His comment referred to AG Steve Marshall, Gov. Kay Ivey, her counsel, and Commissioner Jeff Dunn. While several organizations and lawyers wrote to Ivey asking her to grant clemency for Hamm, Ivey did not respond to the requests.

Marshall issued a video on social media Wednesday, confirming he received the same letters. "Tomorrow I will not request that Doyle Hamm's execution be stopped, but instead I will ask that justice be served," he said in the video.

Tuesday's order from U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O Bowdre comes after months of a legal battle over whether Doyle Lee Hamm is too sick to be executed by lethal injection.

Marshall read a quote from the United Nations letter, asking the state to spare Hamm's life. "That petition attempts to paint a very sympathetic picture of Doyle Hamm," he said. "What I'm most convinced by is not the words of that petition, but instead what it doesn't tell you. Because it doesn't tell you the circumstances of the crime... and it gives you no understanding of the victim and the consequences to the victim's family of this heinous act."

Hamm was convicted in the 1987 murder and robbery of Patrick Cunningham, a clerk at Anderson's Motel in Cullman. Cunningham was shot execution style and found dead behind the reception desk of the motel. He was a husband and father of 2 children.

"Doyle Hamm received due process and more," Marshall stated in the video.

Source:  al.com, February 25, 2018


⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Idaho Department Of Correction Can Keep Lethal Injection Drugs Secret, Judge Says

Double Dose: 2 executions in Texas next week

Chinese nanny Mo Huanjing executed for arson killings

Virginia: Convicted killer, already facing death penalty, admits slaying 2 girls in Illinois in 2005

Florida: Trial for man accused of throwing daughter from Pinellas County bridge delayed

Belarus: the Last Refuge for the Death Penalty in Europe

Alabama: Derrick Dearman found guilty in 5 Citronelle murders, jury recommends execution

Malaysian death sentences commuted for 3 Mexican brothers

'No Time To Sleep' to depict last day of death penalty inmate

Death penalty sought for SC man accused of ‘brutally’ molesting, killing toddler