Never before has Tennessee asked to execute so many of the condemned.
Officials here, believing they are free of the latest round of challenges to Tennessee’s death penalty, recently asked the state Supreme Court for execution dates for 10 death row inmates. One of those 10, Billy Ray Irick, is scheduled to die Jan. 15 for raping and killing a 7-year-old Knoxville girl he had been baby-sitting in 1985.
An 11th man, Nickolus Johnson, whose execution was sought separately from the 10, is scheduled to be put to death April 22 for killing a Bristol police officer in 2004.
For a state that has executed only six death row inmates since 1960 and none since 2009, the request marks an unprecedented push to carry out the death penalty.
“I’ve been representing death row inmates for two decades, and never in my experience have I ever seen a situation where a state has requested 10 execution dates all at once,” said Kelley Henry, who supervises capital punishment defense cases with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Nashville and represents several of those the state is looking to execute. “This is an unprecedented situation.”
Henry and other attorneys for the condemned men are asking a lower court to halt the executions over questions about the drug the state now plans to use. The Supreme Court could set those dates at any time, but similar challenges in the past have delayed executions in Tennessee, sometimes for years.
The ABA Journal posts, "After four years without an execution, Tennessee seeks dates for 10 lethal injections," by Debra Cassens Weiss.
Tennessee has executed only six inmates since 1960 and none since 2009. Now its attorney general wants execution dates set for 10 condemned killers.
Attorney General Robert Cooper asked the state supreme court to set the dates in “an unprecedented push to carry out the death penalty,” the Tennessean reports. The 10 inmates have been on death row for an average of more than 27 years.
Executions in Tennessee were put on hold in 2011 because the state couldn't obtain one of the drugs used for lethal injection. Now the state is prepared to use a new drug.
Earlier coverage from Tennessee begins at the link.