Thursday, 24 May 2007

New execution dates set for inmates affected by moratorium

NASHVILLE, Tennessee

The state has set new execution dates for four inmates whose executions were postponed while the Department of Correction reviewed its protocols for lethal injection and electrocution.

Daryl Keith Holton, Edward Jerome Harbison, Michael Joe Boyd - who now goes by the name Mika'eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad - and Pervis T. Payne had been scheduled to be put to death in February, March and April. Those executions were postponed on Feb. 1 when Gov. Phil Bredesen placed a 90-day moratorium on executions, asking state official to review the protocols for carrying out the death penalty.

Bredesen cited a number of problems with the state's execution guidelines, such as the procedures not detailing standard dosage amounts for the three chemicals used during a lethal injection.

An Associated Press review of the old execution procedure manual found it was a jumble of conflicting instructions that mixed lethal injection instructions with those for the electric chair.

The Correction Department completed the revision of its procedures late last month and the moratorium was allowed to expire. Inmate Philip Workman was executed the following week, on May 9.

The moratorium came after Harbison sued the state in federal court over the lethal injection procedure, which hesaid violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. He is challenging the kinds of drugs used in lethal injections, the lack of specific guidelines on how to administer them and an absence of required professional standards for the execution team.

Attorneys for Harbison objected to setting a new execution date because of his pending litigation. The state Supreme Court denied the request and, on Wednesday, set Harbison's new execution date for Sept. 26. Holton is scheduled to be executed on Sept. 12, Boyd on Oct. 24 and Payne on Dec. 12.

Boyd was convicted of a 1998 armed robbery and slaying in Memphis.

Harbison was found guiltyin Hamilton County of murdering a woman for whom he sometimes did repair work.

Holton confessed to killing his three young sons and their half-sister with an assault rifle in 1997 in Shelbyville.
Payne was sentenced to death in Memphis for the 1987 fatal stabbing of a woman and her young daughter during what prosecutors called "drug-induced frenzy."

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