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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…

Death penalty repeal bid in conservative Utah fizzles again

Chair used in Utah for firing squad executions
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah lawmaker on Friday abandoned his effort to repeal the death penalty, saying the measure didn't have quite enough support.

With five days remaining before legislators adjourn, Republican Rep. Gage Froerer said it wasn't worth taking up time to debate the emotional subject.

"I was hopeful that Utah would be one of the first red states to take this, because the trend obviously is to do away with the death penalty," he said. "I'm convinced whether its next year or five or 10 years from now the death penalty will go away."

It's the second time in recent years that a GOP-backed effort to end capital punishment in the state has fizzled. Among the biggest hurdles were crime victims who wanted the option to seek capital punishment.

He and House Speaker Greg Hughes, also a Republican, argued that ending the death penalty should be a conservative position because conservatives are "Pro-Life," believe the government is imperfect and should be limited.

Utah came close to repealing the death penalty two years ago but the measure didn't have enough support in the House. This year, Froerer said he believes about 34 members of the 75-member House would have voted for repeal, and a debate may have swayed a few more votes but the tally would have been razor-thin.

Across the U.S., 19 states and the District of Columbia have overturned or banned the death penalty.

Froerer's proposed ban would not have applied to cases where the death penalty has already been sought and the nine men on Utah's death row still would have been facing execution.

Gov. Gary Herbert said last month that he believes society has the right to "eradicate" people who commit egregious crimes, but because appeals from death row inmates can drag on for decades, he said capital punishment can be unfair to the families of victims.

The move to end capital punishment in the conservative state came three years after Utah voted to reinstate the firing squad as a backup method for executions.

Hughes, who voted to reinstate the firing squad, says that if the government is going to execute people, there's no need to "sanitize" a brutal act by relying solely on lethal injections.

Source: The Associated Press, Lindsay Whitehurst and Michelle L. Price, March 2, 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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