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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: Attempts to carry out the death penalty have gone from bad to worse

Alabama's death row
We are barely into the third month of 2018 and already the state of Alabama’s attempts to carry out the death penalty have gone from bad to worse.

In late January, 30 minutes before he was supposed to die, the court stayed the execution of Vernon Madison because there were questions as to whether he could understand why he was being killed.

Madison, 67, has been on death row for more than three decades after having been found guilty of the murder of Mobile police officer Julius Schulte. His attorneys say multiple strokes have left Madison with dementia and he no longer has a memory of his crime. They also say he is legally blind, cannot walk on his own and has urinary incontinence. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the state will continue to pursue Madison’s execution.

In late February, Alabama tried to kill Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, in what has been described as a horrifically botched execution. Hamm, who has spent more than 30 years on death row for the murder of Patrick Cunningham, a motel clerk in Cullman, has been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. While strapped to a gurney for more than two-and-a-half hours, Hamm was repeatedly punctured through his groin as officials attempted to find a vein for the lethal injection. Half an hour before his death warrant was to expire, the state called off the execution. U.S. Chief District Judge Karon Bowdre is expected to begin a review of the execution attempt on Tuesday.

On April 19, Alabama is scheduled to execute Walter Leroy Moody, 83, the oldest inmate on the state’s death row. Moody was convicted of killing federal appeals court judge Robert Vance with a pipe bomb he mailed to Vance’s home in Mountain Brook in 1989.

Thirty years is a long time to wait to die, but the state is persistent. Alabama has spent a lot of money and a lot of energy to usher out these old and infirm inmates before nature takes its course. We’re sure a lot of readers would agree that Madison, Hamm and Moody are examples of why the death penalty process should be shortened. But there are six men in the past 25 years who are glad it wasn’t.

Walter McMillian was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in 1988 in Monroeville. On March 2, 1993, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-0 to exonerate him and set him free. He sat on death row for six years. Larry Randal Padgett was sentenced to death in 1992. Five and a half years later, he was exonerated. Gary Drinkard was sentenced to death in 1995. In 2001 he was exonerated. Wesley Quick was sentenced to death in 1997. He was exonerated in 2003. Daniel Wade Moore was sentenced to death in 2002. He was exonerated in 2009.

Anthony Hinton was sentenced to death in 1986. He was exonerated in 2015, after awaiting his execution for 29 years for crimes he did not commit.

Source: tuscaloosanews.com, Editorial, March 5, 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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