Governor Bill Haslam explains decision not to intervene in execution

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The Tennessee Supreme Court’s majority ruled against staying the execution of convicted child killer Billy Ray Irick Monday night, and Gov. Bill Haslam decided against intervening.

A statement from the Governor’s office read:

“After careful consideration, I am declining to intervene in the case of Billy Ray Irick, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986 by a Knox County jury for the murder and aggravated rape of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. Irick requests clemency based upon his mental health status at the time the crime was committed.  However, Irick was examined by a mental health expert and ruled competent to stand trial.  The jury heard evidence regarding Irick’s mental health during sentencing, and state and federal courts, including the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States, have reviewed and upheld the jury’s verdict and sentence on 17 different occasions, 11 of which occurred after additional evidence emerged years after the trial regarding his behavior in the weeks leading up to the offense.  Both state and federal courts have ruled that the additional evidence does not undermine the jury’s verdict or warrant a new trial. 

“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. 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.”

Irick is set to be executed on Thursday.

It would be the first execution in Tennessee since 2009.

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