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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…

Bill allowing death row inmates to be executed by nitrogen gas sails through Alabama House panel

Alabama's death chamber
A bill to allow death row inmates to be executed by nitrogen gas passed the Alabama House on Wednesday.

"It's about options. It's not a debate about the death penalty," the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, told the committee.

Pittman said the execution method, formally known as nitrogen hypoxia, is a humane way to put someone to death. He said nitrogen hypoxia eventually leads to unconsciousness and then death.

"It's not like asphyxiation where you build up pain and your have some issues and you understand you're under duress," Pittman said.

The bill gives death row inmates the option to choose nitrogen hypoxia, electrocution or lethal injection. 

The executions would be conducted at Holman Correctional Facility at Atmore, and the bill gives the Department of Corrections the ability to choose the accommodations for them.

Rep. Mike Holmes, R-, said the bill would create a valid option in the wake of the state's struggles with lethal injection.

"We're having problems getting chemicals," Holmes noted.

Pittman said 2 states - Mississippi and Oklahoma - allow for death by nitrogen hypoxia but the method has yet to be used in an execution.

The state Senate passed the bill late last month. It now heads to the full House.

Source: al.com, March 8, 2018


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