NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for Billy Ray Irick meaning Tennessee will execute its first inmate in nearly a decade Thursday night.
Irick is set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution – more than 30 years after he was convicted in the rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer in Knox County.
Amid a flurry of last-minute court filings Wednesday, attorneys for Billy Ray Irick and the State of Tennessee argued whether Irick’s impending Thursday execution should be delayed.
The U.S. Supreme Court considered the matter, and its decision to deny the stay of execution came down Thursday afternoon.
In documents filed Tuesday, Irick’s attorney argues that Irick’s execution should be stayed because he is currently part of a state lawsuit challenging the use of Tennessee's three-drug lethal injection protocol. His attorney argues the legal process regarding that lawsuit should play out before Irick is executed.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the denial of the application for stay on the grounds of the "torturous pain" the lethal cocktail of drugs could cause.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said the state should be able to go ahead with the execution because Irick’s state lawsuit is not likely to be successful.
Governor Bill Haslam has also denied Irick clemency.