Tennessee Executes Its First Prisoner In Over A Decade

Billy Ray Irick on death row for raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in 1985 appears in a Knox County criminal courtroom in Knoxville Tenn. arguing that he's too mentally ill to be executed by the state

Billy Ray Irick was convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer

However, he changed his mind and said, "I just want to say I'm really sorry and that, that's it". Minutes later, Irick let out a cough or choking sound, as his face turned dark purple.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Billy Ray Irick on Thursday, which would make him the first Tennessee inmate to be put to death since 2009.

On Thursday, Irick was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m.at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tennessee.

A Tennessee man was executed on Thursday after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned that he was likely to suffer "torturous pain" while his suffering is shrouded "behind a veneer of paralysis". The meal included a super deluxe burger, onion rings and a Pepsi.

Irick and other death row inmates had been part of a lawsuit that sought to block use of Tennessee's lethal injection mix. Irick was convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl he was babysitting.

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We, the Catholic bishops of the Dioceses of Knoxville and Nashville, charged with shepherding the people of our state from the Tennessee River in the west to the mountains in the east, join to voice our strong objection to the execution of Billy Ray Irick, even though his brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Paula Dyer is among the most heinous of crimes.

She was taken to the hospital where doctors tried to save her life for 45 minutes before she was pronounced dead.

She added: "If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilised nation and accepted barbarism".

Tennessee plans called for use of midazolam as a sedative, the muscle-relaxer vecuronium bromide and then potassium chloride to stop the heart.

Henry said in a statement Thursday night that witness observations suggest the midazolam didn't render Irick fully unconscious, and those accounts were "indicative of pulmonary edema" from the drug.

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Irick had been a boarder in the home where the girl lived with her mother, stepfather and siblings.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a challenge to Oklahoma's use of Midazolam in 2015 and upheld the state's lethal injection protocol in a 5-4 decision, holding that the drug cocktail did not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"I hope tonight's lawful execution in some way eases the heartache Paula's family has lived with and brings a degree of closure to a chapter of their lives that has been indescribably hard", Slatery said in the statement.

Billy Irick, 59, is the first state inmate to be put to death since 2009.

The state used an execution cocktail of midazolam, meant to stop the pain, followed by the paralytic drug vecuronium bromide and the heart-stopping drug potassium chloride. About 50 protesters were outside the prison, while others who support the death penalty also showed up as authorities kept the two groups apart. And last week, Pope Francis revealed new Catholic church teaching that deems the death penalty "inadmissible" under all circumstances.

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