Tennessee executes its first inmate in nearly a decade when Billy Ray Irick, 59, is executed

Tennessee executed its first inmate since 2009, executing a man for the rape and murder in 1985 of a 7-year-old girl from Knoxville. Authorities say Billy Ray Irick, a 59-year-old prisoner, was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. Thursday after an injection of three drugs in a prison in Nashville

"I just want to say I'm really sorry," those were the last words spoken by Billy Ray Irick before he was executed in a Tennessee state prison on Thursday.

Witnesses of the first execution of Tennessee in almost a decade say that Irick at first pointed out that he would not have final words, but then gave a brief statement to those who were watching.

The journalists present informed that the blinds between the witness room and the execution room were opened at 7:26 p.m. On Thursday, and about a minute later, Irick was asked if he had a word before lethal injection drugs began to flow.

Irick was convicted of the rape and murder in 1985 of a 7-year-old girl he cared for.

At first he seemed to sigh and say "no".

Tennessee executed its first inmate since 2009, executing a man for the rape and murder in 1985 of a 7-year-old girl from Knoxville. Authorities say Billy Ray Irick, a 59-year-old prisoner, was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. Thursday after an injection of three drugs in a prison in Nashville

Tennessee executed its first inmate since 2009, executing a man for the rape and murder in 1985 of a 7-year-old girl from Knoxville. Authorities say Billy Ray Irick, a 59-year-old prisoner, was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. Thursday after an injection of three drugs in a prison in Nashville

But then he said: "I just want to say that I'm really sorry and that's it."

A minute later, his eyes closed. Snores and strong breaths were heard.

Then, at 7:34 p.m., there was coughing, panting and deep breathing.

An assistant began to scream & # 39; Billy & # 39; and he checked the prisoner and grabbed him by the shoulder, but there did not seem to be any reaction.

Two minutes later, Irick was not making any noise and began to turn dark purple.

He was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m.

Irick is the first death row to be executed by Tennessee since 2009.

The Supreme Court of the United States opened the way on Thursday afternoon for the execution, denying Irick's request.

John Boylan of the Church of Christ the Prophet in Spring Hill, Tenn, holds a candle as protesters gather in front of the maximum security institution of Riverbend against execution

John Boylan of the Church of Christ the Prophet in Spring Hill, Tenn, holds a candle as protesters gather in front of the maximum security institution of Riverbend against execution

John Boylan of the Church of Christ the Prophet in Spring Hill, Tenn, holds a candle as protesters gather in front of the maximum security institution of Riverbend against execution

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an overwhelming dissent, which recounts a recent trial conducted by a state court over a case brought by 33 inmates sentenced to death challenging Tennessee's enforcement drugs.

Since its last execution, Tennessee has faced legal challenges and difficulties in securing the supply of drugs, including the former, pentobarbital.

The state Supreme Court denied a stay on Monday, saying a lawsuit filed by inmates challenging the running drugs that are used is not likely to be successful.

Sotomayor wrote that the court is overlooking the potential for "torturous pain" by that method of execution.

Governor Bill Haslam also refused to intervene.

Irick ate a hamburger and onion rings before being executed on Thursday night.

Convicted child murderer Billy Ray Irick has selected a burger and onion rings as his last meal before his execution on Thursday

Convicted child murderer Billy Ray Irick has selected a burger and onion rings as his last meal before his execution on Thursday

Irick was convicted of raping and murdering seven-year-old Paula Dyer (pictured) in 1985

Irick was convicted of raping and murdering seven-year-old Paula Dyer (pictured) in 1985

Irick, who raped and murdered seven-year-old Paula Dyer in April 1985, selected a hamburger and onion rings as his last meal before his execution on Thursday.

Irick, 59, was sent to see the death this week. He is in a cell 8 feet by 10 feet in view of the death chamber. Pictured is the death chamber at the Riverbend maximum security prison in Nashville

Irick, 59, was sent to see the death this week. He is in a cell 8 feet by 10 feet in view of the death chamber. Pictured is the death chamber at the Riverbend maximum security prison in Nashville

Irick, 59, was sent to see the death this week. He is in a cell 8 feet by 10 feet in view of the death chamber. Pictured is the death chamber at the Riverbend maximum security prison in Nashville

Irick, who was found guilty of raping and murdering seven-year-old Paula Dyer in 1985, selected the "super luxury combo" for his last meal.

The meal includes a super deluxe burger, onion rings and a Pepsi soda, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

The name of the restaurant will not be released "because of excessive caution," according to a department spokeswoman.

Inmates on death row are limited to $ 20 for their last meal, according to The Tennessean.

Irick, 59, was transferred to death guard this week, which means he is in an 8-foot by 10-foot cell in full view of the death chamber with strictly regulated visitation rights.

Irick was established for the first time to be executed on May 4, 1987.

His lawyers have filed a series of appeals over the decades, with allegations of dementia and the unconstitutional use of the electric chair as a backup to lethal injection.

Kathy Jeffers, Paula's mother (pictured), says she feels "nothing" because of Irick's pain after his crimes

Kathy Jeffers, Paula's mother (pictured), says she feels "nothing" because of Irick's pain after his crimes

& # 39; I'm sick of hearing about your pain and your suffering. What about his pain and his suffering? she told reporters

& # 39; I'm sick of hearing about your pain and your suffering. What about his pain and his suffering? she told reporters

Kathy Jeffers, Paula's mother, says she does not feel anything & # 39; for Irick's pain after his crimes

In July, Irick's lawyer requested that the Tennessee Supreme Court delay his execution once again in the midst of a challenge to the state's lethal injection protocol.

For the first time, Tennessee used midazolam as a sedative, muscle relaxant vecuronium bromide and then potassium chloride to stop the heart.

The question is whether midazolam is effective in leaving someone unconscious and unable to feel pain for the other two drugs.

But the Tennessee Supreme Court justices ruled that Irick's attorney had not demonstrated a substantially less painful means of carrying out the execution or that the drugs the state plans to use would cause the prisoner to be tortured to death.

Federal public defender Kelley Henry had asked the United States Supreme Court to delay his execution.

The Supreme Court rarely suspends executions.

Henry had asked Haslam to give a temporary respite while studying more drugs.

But the governor quickly dismissed it, saying he would not intervene.

"My role is not to be the 13th jury or judge or impose my personal views, but to carefully review the judicial process to make sure it is complete and fair," said Henry.

"Due to the exhaustive judicial review of all the evidence and arguments in each stage of this case, the pardon is not appropriate."

During the last trial, Henry cited witnesses who described some inmates who could still move, shed tears, gasp and swallow "like a fish out of water" while being executed.

I was seven years old, raped, sodomized and strangled to death. I'm sorry, I do not feel anything for your pain. Nothing at all. God, forgive me, but I do not, "Jeffers said.

I was seven years old, raped, sodomized and strangled to death. I'm sorry, I do not feel anything for your pain. Nothing at all. God, forgive me, but I do not, "Jeffers said.

I was seven years old, raped, sodomized and strangled to death. I'm sorry, I do not feel anything for your pain. Nothing at all. God, forgive me, but I do not, "Jeffers said.

"Today's decision means that Irick faces a scheduled execution date before the courts have had the opportunity to carefully consider the challenge to the new lethal injection protocol," Henry said in a statement Monday.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sharon Lee added that "she will not join the rush to execute Irick and instead will grant him a stay to prevent his life from ending before his appeal can be adjudicated."

State lawyers have said that the US Supreme Court has confirmed the use of midazolam in a series of three drugs.

Paula's mother, Kathy Jeffers, said she has no sympathy for Irick.

"What he did to her is the reason why he is where he is," he told WBIR-TV.

& # 39; I'm sick of hearing about your pain and your suffering. What about his pain and his suffering?

I was seven years old, raped, sodomized and strangled to death. I'm sorry, I do not feel anything for your pain. Nothing at all. God, forgive me, but I do not.

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