Workman Executed By Lethal Injection - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Workman Executed By Lethal Injection

Gathering on the grounds of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution Gathering on the grounds of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution
TDOC Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter TDOC Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter
Valarie Craig Valarie Craig

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Philip Workman, 53, convicted for killing a Memphis police officer in 1981, was pronounced dead at 1:38 a.m. Wednesday.

Workman died by lethal injection at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. It was the third death sentence carried out in Tennessee in 47 years.

In his last words, Workman said "he was commending his spirit into the hands of Lord Jesus Christ," according to The Associated Press.

About 17 minutes passed between the time witnesses first saw Workman and when he was pronounced dead, according to The Associated Press.

Workman ran out of all appeals to spare his life despite a flurry of last-minute efforts by his attorneys. Within a half hour of his scheduled execution, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the death row inmate's last-minute appeal to delay his 1 a.m. execution.

His attorneys argued that his execution came too soon after the state issued new death penalty protocols and Workman did not have enough time to challenge them.

Workman was convicted in 1982 for the shooting death of Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver in 1981.

Workman robbed a fast-food restaurant when he got into a gun battle with police.

He wounded an officer and shot another one but claimed he did not fatally shoot Oliver, but that another officer accidentally shot Oliver during the gun fight.

Workman had been on death watch three times before Wednesday's execution. Previous times, stays were granted within hours of his scheduled execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court motions to stop the execution Tuesday. The state granted Workman's request that his body not be autopsied.

On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, but the circuit court overturned that ruling Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Workman met with family, friends and spiritual advisor the Rev. Joe Ingle.

Workman requested that his brother, Terry Workman stay out of the witness area. Ingle opted out after midnight.

Oliver's widow and stepchildren were present.

Tennessee Department of Correction Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter announced when Workman died before introducing Valarie Craig of Nashville-based victims' rights group "You Have the Power." Craig read a statement from the Oliver family. She did not take any questions from media.

"This is not a happy night for anyone," Craig said, "however, for those who loved and cared for the victim, there is at last some justice for the victim."

She appealed for those assembled at the press conference outside the prison to remember Oliver.

"Lt. Ronald Oliver, that is the name of the person who should be on the forefront of everyone's thoughts," Craig said.

She said that 25 years ago, Oliver was "doing the job he was sworn to do" on the night his life and those who loved one were irreversibly changed.

She said that nothing can repair the gulf created by Oliver's death for his loved ones, yet they have "some peace in knowing that the person who put them on this course will not be able to do that again."

The federal defender was in the witness room.

Workman skipped dinner before the execution. He had requested a vegetarian pizza be given to a homeless person, but prison officials refused.

His execution was the state's third lethal injection since 2000. The state executed Sedley Alley in June and Robert Glen Coe in 2000. The last execution before Coe's was in 1960 by electrocution.

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