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'I'm looking forward to being in [God's] presence.' Tennessee man executed by electric chair

Posted at 6:16 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 23:44:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)  — A Tennessee inmate was the fifth to die in the state's electric chair in the past 16 months.

Fifty-eight-year-old Nicholas Sutton was sentenced to death in 1986 for killing a fellow inmate. He had already been serving time for three murders committed when he was just 18.

He was executed Thursday night at 7:26 p.m. Before being electrocuted, Sutton said "I want to thank my wife for being such a good witness to the Lord and for my family and many friends for their love and support as they tried so very hard to save my life. Don't ever give up on the power of Jesus Christ to take impossible situations and correct them. He's fixed me. I'm just grateful for to be a servant of God and I'm looking forward to being in His presence."

A Tennessee Department of Corrections official read a statement from the sister of one of Sutton's victims, John Large.

Amy Large Cook's statement:

"I would first like to thank my friends and family for all the years of support. My parents were so grateful for all of the thoughts and prayers and I am as well. My prayers are also with the other victims' families today. I hope they will be able to have peace and closure. I don't know that I will ever have complete closure, but like a friend of mine said, 'at least that chapter would be over.' I wish my parents and John's wife could be here today, but I know they are in spirit. But it is a blessing they don't have to go through the anguish of reliving the gruesome details of John's murder on a daily basis. John was denied the opportunity to live a full life with a family of his own. My children were denied meeting a wonderful man who would have spoiled them rotten and loved them with all his heart. He suffered a terrible and horrific death. And for that, I will never forgive Mr Sutton. I would like to thank my God for carrying me through this horrific ordeal. My parents' love and trust in Him got them through the worst times in their lives. I especially want to thank my husband Dwayne, my beautiful children Ashley and John for their never ending love and support. They have been my rock. Also I want to thank the Tennessee State Attorneys General's office and their staff. They have been a huge support in the last few years. They have handled every situation with grace, class and professionalism. Finally, thank you to all the reporters I interviewed with. All of them were very caring and graceful with their questions. If anything good came from this, I feel blessed that the new friends I feel I've made with them."

Sutton's attorney, Stephen Ferrell, read a statement on Sutton's behalf. It read in part:

"I Hope I do a much better job in the next life, than I did in this one. If I could leave one thing with all of you, it is - don't ever give up on the ability of Jesus Christ to fix someone or any problem. He can fix anything. Don't ever underestimate His ability. He has made my life meaningful and fruitful through my relationships with family and friends. So even in my death, I am coming out a winner. God has provided it all to me."

NewsChannel 5's Matthew Torres was one of the media witnesses. When asked about Sutton's expression prior to the execution he said, "Overall. he just looked straight ahead. That's something that I think I'll remember, kind of the look of - not necessarily emptiness, but clearly at least for me, he knew what his fate was."

In a clemency petition to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Sutton's supporters said he is not the same man who went to prison forty years ago. But Lee said Wednesday that he would not grant clemency.

Sutton has two appeals pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.