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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…

Plan to repeal death penalty in Utah passes 1st vote; Gov. says he might sign legislation

Utah's House of Representatives
A Republican state lawmaker's plan to repeal the death penalty in deep-red Utah has cleared its 1st test.

A legislative committee approved the bill Wednesday despite concerns from some lawmakers that the discussion was rushed and family members of victims weren't given enough time to weigh in.

The proposal now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives, where it has the backing of Republican Speaker Greg Hughes.

Hughes and bill sponsor Rep. Gage Froerer say that abolishing the death penalty has been seen as a liberal position but conservatives who profess to be "Pro-Life," believe that government is imperfect and should be limited ought to also support the ban.

Republican Rep. Paul Ray opposes the ban and says inmates imprisoned for life are a constant threat to prison staff because they have nothing to lose.

Source: Associated Press, February 21, 2018


Gov. Herbert says he might sign legislation to do away with the death penalty in Utah


Utah may well do away with the death penalty for our worst murderers - having life without parole instead.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday that he might sign a bill that would do away with the death penalty in the state.

In his monthly KUED Channel 7 news conference, Herbert told reporters: "I would take a very hard look at" a bill being sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, said Herbert.

"It's something I would consider signing," Herbert added.

HB379 now sits on the House calendar, awaiting floor debate and votes. It passed out of a House standing committee 7-4 Wednesday morning.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, supports the bill.

He said this week that he believes doing away with the death penalty is a conservative position - because conservatives question government actions and authority, and killing someone is the ultimate government action that should be questioned.

A recent study by state corrections/judicial officials shows that while Utahns have been a strong supporter of the death penalty in the past, those opinions are changing.

Some estimates say it could cost up to $2 million of Utah taxpayer funds to execute a murderer.

In fact, Herbert noted that in the past he, too, has been a strong supporter of the death penalty.

He wanted the most "heinous criminals eradicated" from society.

Utah governors don't have pardon power - he or she can't take a person off of death row.

Herbert said it might take 20 or 25 years for a murderer to be executed in Utah.

And that is not justice for the family of the victim, nor for those being prosecuted and sentenced to death.

Justice delayed is indeed justice denied.

"I'm to the point" where the death penalty is no longer just to Utah taxpayers, either.

However, it must be clear that in Utah life without parole is, in fact, the murderer is locked up for life - and can never be paroled or let out of prison.

The bill still has to pass the House and the Senate before it can get to Herbert's desk. It would allow those now on death row to be executed.

And it would allow prosecutors of murder cases now underway to seek the death penalty until early May of this year - outlawing the sentence after that time.

But if those things happen, Utah, a very red, conservative state, could do away with the death penalty - something not seen likely even just a few years ago.

Source: utahpolicy.com, February 21, 2018


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

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