Tenn. makes push to execute 10 killers

Associated Press • Dec 5, 2013 at 9:15 PM

NASHVILLE — With a new execution protocol in place, Tennessee officials have asked the state Supreme Court to set death dates for 10 condemned killers.

An 11th inmate, whose execution date was requested separately, has an execution date set for April 27.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1aCTIbo) reports the state hasn't previously sought to execute so many on death row.

Only six inmates have been executed in the state since 1960, and there have been no executions since 2009.

"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 is 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."

The request from the Tennessee Attorney General's Office comes after the state announced in September that it was switching from the three-drug method for lethal injections to using only one drug.

Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said all 10 inmates have exhausted their normal appeals.

"We filed all 10 motions at the same time because they were all ready to be set for execution, and TDOC was in a position to carry them out under a new protocol," Curtis-Flair said. "The Department could not have carried out the executions earlier because it was unable to procure all of the drugs required under the old protocol."

Nashville defense attorney David Raybin, who was involving in writing the state's death penalty statute, says delays from legal challenges and not being able to get the proper drugs for lethal injections have likely contributed to the current request.

"For lack of a better word, (executions) sort of backed up," Raybin said. "I think what they've done is, they've said, 'We've backed up for so long and now we want to put them all on a fast track because nothing has happened for years.' "

Gov. Bill Haslam said through a spokesman that he was not involved in the decision to request the dates.

"The AG recommends the dates, and the Supreme Court makes the call," spokesman Dave Smith said.

Of the 10 dates requested, one has been set: Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to die on Jan. 15 for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old Knoxville girl in 1985.


Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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