NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – A Nashville federal judge has ruled that the execution of Tennessee’s next death row inmate, David Earl Ray, may continue, but the Tennessee Department of Correction must provide a telephone for Ray’s attorney-witness before and during the execution. The order also applies to three other death row inmates who sued the state.
Another Nashville federal judge made a similar ruling for the execution of Edmund Zagorski on November 1, which TDOC eventually complied with.
Judge William Campbell, Jr., who authored Thursday’s decision, declined to delay Ray’s December 6 execution while the judge considers other questions in the inmates’ lawsuit.
The inmates – Ray along with Nicholas Todd Sutton, Stephen Michael West and Terry Lynn King – are seeking to challenge the constitutionality of both Tennessee’s use of lethal injection and the electric chair, offering alternatives such as a firing squad or drinking fruit juice laced with lethal chemicals .
While Campbell did not rule on those issues Thursday, the denial of a stay of execution suggests the judge believes the inmates are not likely to win their lawsuit.
Miller was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of Lee Standifer, a mentally handicapped woman in Knoxville.