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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…

Japan: Court orders retrial of deceased man convicted in 1984 murder over forced confession

Prison cell
OTSU, Shiga -- A court has ordered a retrial for a deceased man who was convicted of murdering a 69-year-old woman in 1984 in western Japan, endorsing new evidence and suspecting that he was forced into confession after being beaten by police officers.

The decision by the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture on Wednesday quashed the Osaka High Court's ruling in 2011 that dismissed Hiromu Sakahara's plea for a retrial. Sakahara died the same year, and in 2012, his family filed a second retrial petition with the district court.

It is believed to the first time a Japanese court has ordered a retrial sought by the family of a deceased convict.

Sakahara was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on charges he killed Hatsu Ikemoto, a liquor store manager in Hino, Shiga, and seized her cash box.

After being arrested and indicted in 1988, Sakahara argued that his original confession during the investigation was made under coercion. The focal point of the trial was the method of the murder and whether Sakahara's confession was credible.

The family's defense team claimed it was impossible to murder the woman in the way Sakahara had explained in his confession, and as new evidence, submitted a lab result by a forensic doctor.

The new evidence showed the woman had been knocked down on her back and strangled, while Sakahara had confessed to strangling her from behind.

The district court weighed the evidence and supported the defense team's claim that wounds on the woman's body did not match the way Sakahara had said he murdered her.

The court also denied the credibility of his confession, the strongest evidence for his conviction, suspecting he was forced to confess after police beat him and threatened to harm his family.

In 1995, the district court found Sakahara guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. The high court and the Supreme Court later upheld the ruling, finalizing his conviction in 2000.

Source: Japan Today, July 12, 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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