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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…

Florida Supreme Court rejects 9 death penalty appeals

Witness room, Florida's death chamber
After similar rulings recently in at least 80 other cases, the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected appeals from nine Death Row inmates.

All of the cases involve inmates who were sentenced to death before a June 2002 cutoff date.

The appeals stemmed from a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Hurst v. Florida and a subsequent Florida Supreme Court decision.

The 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found Florida's death-penalty sentencing system was unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries.

The subsequent Florida Supreme Court ruling said juries must unanimously agree on critical findings before judges can impose death sentences and must unanimously recommend the death penalty.

But the Florida Supreme Court made the new sentencing requirements apply to cases since June 2002.

That is when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling known as Ring v. Arizona that was a premise for striking down Florida's death-penalty sentencing system in 2016.

In each of the recent cases, the Death Row inmates had been sentenced to death before the Ring decision and argued unsuccessfully that the new unanimity requirements should also apply to their cases.

The inmates who lost appeals Wednesday were Darryl Brian Barwick in a Bay County case; Paul Anthony Brown in a Volusia County case; Milford Wade Byrd in a Hillsborough County case; Louis B. Gaskin in a Flagler County case; Mark Allen Geralds in a Bay County case; Ronald Palmer Heath in an Alachua County case; Thomas Dewey Pope in a Broward County case; Bobby Allen Raleigh in a Volusia County case; and Pablo San Martin in a Miami-Dade County case.

Source: News Service of Florida, February 28, 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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