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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…

State appeals court affirms jailing of Mennonite who won’t testify in death penalty case

Greta Lindecrantz
The Colorado Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed a contempt of court ruling, thereby keeping a Mennonite investigator, who is refusing to testify in a death penalty case, in jail.

The judges listened to arguments for about an hour from attorneys representing Greta Lindecrantz, the 67-year-old who has been in jail since Monday for contempt of court, and Arapahoe County District Judge Michelle Amico, who sent her there.

The three-judge panel did not make an immediate decision, although Presiding Judge Jerry Jones said they would consider the case carefully and quickly.  He opened the hearing by saying, “We are acutely aware this is a very serious matter.”

Later in the day,  the panel affirmed the ruling.

“Ms. Lindecrantz is in a tough spot — caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. We take no pleasure in declining to extricate her. But the state of the law being what it is, decline we must,” Judge Jones said in the ruling. Judges Robert D. Hawthorne and Diana Terry concurred.

“I am obviously disappointed,” said Mari Newman, Lindecrantz’s attorney. “The court had no interest in finding a way for her to testify without abandoning her religious beliefs.”

Lindecrantz was called to testify by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in an appeals hearing being held for Robert Ray, a man sentenced to death in 2009 for a murder-for-hire plot to kill two witnesses in another murder case. The appeals hearing, which is mandatory, is challenging the work done by his original defense team, and Lindecrantz served as an investigator on that team.

She has said that testifying on behalf of the prosecution would put her at odds with her Mennonite faith, which is opposed to the death penalty.

A lawyer representing Amico told the appeals court that allowing someone to refuse to participate in a criminal proceeding because of religious beliefs would cause disarray in the courts.

“Ms. Lindecrantz’s position has opened a Pandora’s Box,” said Matthew Grove, assistant solicitor general.

Newman had asked the court if her client could take the stand as a court-sponsored witness, rather than one for the prosecution.

Source: The Denver Post, N. Phillips, K. Nicholson, March 2, 2018


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

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