Death Row Prisoner Is Executed; Last Words Before Dying Were 'I'm Really Sorry'

A man convicted of raping and murdering a seven year old girl he was babysitting back in 1985 was given the death penalty in Tennessee. After years of filing appeals, the convict was finally denied his last stay of execution by the Supreme Court and faced his sentence. He was put to death by lethal injection on Thursday night. Just before dying, he apologized for his action.

It was Tennessee's first execution in a decade. Billy Ray Irick, a 59-year-old convict who was convicted for the rape and murder of seven-year-old Paula Dyer in 1985, has been sitting on death row ever since. His first execution date was set for May 4, 1987, but his attorney managed to get him a stay of execution by filing an appeal.

Over the next three decades, Irick's attorney managed to keep him alive, filing one appeal after another. He filed an appeal claiming insanity. He filed an appeal claiming the electric chair was unconstitutional. In July, he filed an appeal on the grounds that the state's lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional, and he asked that the drugs being used could be further studied.

Irick's attorney argued that one of the new drugs being used, midazolam, a sedative, may not be effective in preventing the condemned man from feeling pain. Previous inmates had shed tears, gasped, or gulped while being put to death by lethal injection.

This last appeal failed, not surprisingly, as the Supreme Court rarely gives stays of execution. They ruled that the attorney failed to demonstrate any less painful means for the execution, or that the drug would cause torture to the condemned man.

"Today's decision means that Mr. Irick faces a scheduled execution date before the courts have had a chance to thoughtfully consider the challenge to the new lethal injection protocol," said the attorney in a statement.

The mother of Paula Dyer had no sympathy for Irick, who caused her daughter and family immeasurable pain. "What he did to her is the reason he's where he is," said Kathy Jeffers. "She was seven years old, raped, sodomized, and strangled to death. I'm sorry, I feel nothing for his pain. Nothing at all. God, forgive me, but I don't."

The execution was carried out on Thursday evening. Irick had his last meal-- a burger and onion rings-- earlier in the day. The execution chamber blinds were open for witnesses at 7:26 pm. Irick was asked if he had any last words. He sighed and said, "No."

After the drugs began flowing, he said, "I just want to say I’m really sorry and that... that’s it."

Soon after, he coughed, turned purple and passed away. He was pronounced dead at 7:48.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a passionate dissent to the decision, citing a decision by the state court in a recent lawsuit.

“In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody,” the Justice wrote.

“If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience,” Sotomayor said, “then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism.”

Source: Daily Mail
Photos: YouTube

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