Sides Trade Blame In Tennessee Lethal Injection Drugs Trial

Posted at 8:25 AM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-09 14:50:20-04

As a lawsuit challenging Tennessee's new lethal injection procedure goes to trial, attorneys for the state and lawyers representing 33 death row inmates are trading blame. 

In Davidson County Chancery Court, federal public defender Kelly Henry said Monday the evidence will show the three-drug combination can feel like chemical waterboarding, liquid fire, being buried alive or exposure to sarin gas. Henry said state officials secretly considered the new method for months. 

Deputy state Attorney General Scott Sutherland said death penalty opponents have persuaded companies not to sell Tennessee's previous lethal injection drug, pentobarbital, for executions. He said inmates' attorneys must identify an alternative to Tennessee's three-drug method and haven't. 

He said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar procedure in Oklahoma. 

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