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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…

Ohio: Death row inmate Alva Campbell has died

Alva Campbell
Alva Campbell — the convicted murderer and Ohio death row inmate who entered the death chamber in November but left 20 minutes later after a suitable vein for injection could not be found — has died, according to a report from this organization’s partners at WBNS 10TV.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that he died of natural causes.

Campbell, 69, had multiple health problems, including issues with his veins. He had asthma, emphysema and required an external colostomy bag, according to court filings and parole board testimony. 

The state agreed to use a wedge pillow to help him partially sit up on the execution gurney because of his breathing problems.


Campbell was sentenced to death for fatally shooting Charles Dials, 18, in 1997 after stealing his truck during an escape from custody. He was set to be put to death on a rescheduled date of June 15, 2019.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich issued the reprieve for Campbell after the execution was halted by Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Gary Mohr, who said he acted on the recommendation of his medical staff.

The staff spent at least 25 minutes in an unsuccessful effort to find a suitable vein in Campbell’s arms and right leg.

While this was happening, Campbell lay in a partially sitting position on a prison gurney in the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Campbell shed tears and shook hands with two of the medical staffers attending to him after they were unable to proceed with the execution process.

Dials’ brother, sister and uncle were witnesses in the execution facility, sitting silently as they watched a closed-circuit monitor showing Campbell behind a screen as medical personnel attempted to find veins with an ultraviolet light and by palpating his arms and ankle.

Three of Campbell’s attorneys and a friend witnessed for him, along with five reporters, including one from the Dayton Daily News.

The attempted execution on Nov. 15 was the second time in recent years the inability to find a vein has stopped an execution. During the attempted execution of inmate Romell Broom in 2009, authorities spent about two hours trying to find a suitable vein before stopping. He remains on death row.

Campbell has a lengthy criminal record. He was on parole after serving a prison sentence for killing a man in Cleveland in 1997 when he shot Dials to death after overpowering a sheriff’s deputy in Franklin County. Campbell took the deputy’s gun forced his way into Dials’ truck, driving off with Dials inside. He shot the teen twice in the head after ordering him to get onto the floor board.

Campbell received the death penalty after his 1998 conviction on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, felonious assault, escape and other offenses in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Campbell exhausted all of his appeals and clemency bids, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his motion to stay the execution of his death sentence.

Source: Dayton Daily News, March 3, 2018

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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