Trial challenging Tenn. lethal injection method wraps up

Federal public defender Kelley Henry said the three-drug method amounts to torture


By Jonathan Mattise
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Attorneys for 33 death row inmates and the state have finished a nearly two-week trial challenging Tennessee's new lethal injection procedure. A decision is expected by the week's end.

During closing arguments Tuesday in Davidson County Chancery Court, federal public defender Kelley Henry said the three-drug method amounts to torture. She said the state hasn't acted in good faith to try to find its previous lethal injection drug, pentobarbital.

Deputy state Attorney General Scott Sutherland said the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld midazolam in a three-drug series. He said inmates' attorneys must identify an alternative and haven't. He said if pentobarbital were available, the state would use it, but death penalty opponents have persuaded companies not to sell pentobarbital for executions.

Tennessee's first execution since 2009 is scheduled Aug. 9.

Associated Press
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