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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…

Louisiana seeks 1-year extension in halt to executions

Louisiana's death chamber
Louisiana authorities are seeking a court order that would rule out any executions in the state for at least one more year.

A lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection protocols has blocked Louisiana from carrying out any death sentences since 2014. Its last execution was in 2010.

In a court filing Wednesday, an attorney for the state asked for a 12-month extension in the court order temporarily staying all executions.

Jeffrey Cody, the state's lawyer, says litigating the case now would be "a waste of resources and time." He asked U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick to postpone a July 17 status conference for the litigation and extend the court-ordered halt in executions for 1 additional year "because the facts and issues involved in this proceeding continue to be in a fluid state."

"It is hoped that, by July 2019, the facts and issues ultimately to be litigated will have become more settled and the parties will then be in a better position to proceed forward with the litigation," Cody wrote.

Dick didn't immediately rule on Cody's request. The case was reassigned to Dick in January after the death of U.S. District Judge James Brady, whose order had temporary blocked all executions.

Drug shortages have forced Louisiana's corrections department to rewrite its execution plan several times since 2010. Under the current execution protocols, the state's primary method is a single-drug injection of pentobarbital, a powerful sedative. The alternative method is a 2-drug combination of the painkiller hydromorphone and the sedative midazolam. The corrections department has none of those drugs in its inventory, according to department spokesman Ken Pastorick.

Louisiana has 71 inmates on death row. The state's last execution was in January 2010, when prison officials put to death Gerald Bordelon, who was convicted of killing his 12-year-old stepdaughter in 2002.

Gary Clements, an attorney for a convicted child killer who sued to block his execution, said the state's request is "probably pretty reasonable under the circumstances" given the "fluid" state of the litigation.

Source: The Associated Press, July 12, 2018


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

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