Governor, Supreme Court Won't Intervene In Tennessee's First Execution In Nearly A Decade | Nashville Public Radio

Governor, Supreme Court Won't Intervene In Tennessee's First Execution In Nearly A Decade

Aug 6, 2018

Both the Tennessee Supreme Court and Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday they will not intervene in the state's first execution in nearly a decade.

Haslam said in a statement he has declined to grant clemency to Billy Ray Irick, who will be put to death on Thursday. The Knox County man was convicted of raping and murdering a 7-year-old girl in the 1980s.

Irick's supporters claim he was suffering a psychotic episode when he committed the crime. But Haslam noted that a health expert and a jury had considered Irick's mental state before his sentencing, while state and federal courts have reviewed the evidence afterward.

"I took an oath to uphold the law. Capital punishment is the law in Tennessee and was ordered in this case by a jury of Tennesseans and upheld by more than a dozen state and federal courts," he wrote.

"My role is not to be the 13th juror or the judge or to impose my personal views, but to carefully review the judicial process to make sure it was full and fair. Because of the extremely thorough judicial review of all of the evidence and arguments at every stage in this case, clemency is not appropriate."

The Tennessee Supreme Court also denied a stay of execution Monday, which would have delayed Irick's death. His attorneys had asked to wait for the resolution of his appeal of the state’s lethal injection protocol.

Irick's death sentence has already been delayed twice, first in 2010 and again in 2014. One of the reasons has been the unavailability and changing protocol of lethal injection drugs. But the state currently has four executions scheduled before the end of the year, including Irick's.

The last person to be put to death in Tennessee was Cecil Johnson in 2009, before Haslam was sworn in as governor.