Friday, August 10, 2018

we have stopped being a civilized nation

Shortly before 8 Thursday night, Bily Ray Irick died.  He was killed by prison guards in revenge for the rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer 32 years ago.

Earlier on Thursday, and without addressing the merits of his requests, the Supreme Court denied the last effort to stop or delay the killing.  Sonia Sotomayor dissented.  

In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody, while shrouding his suffering behind a veneer of paralysis. I cannot in good conscience join in this “rush to execute” without first seeking every assurance that our precedent permits such a result. No. M1987–00131–SC–DPE–DD (Lee, J., dissenting), at 1. If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism. I dissent. 


  1. Here's what bothers me about this case.

    April 16, 1985 Paula Kay Dyer (b. March 5, 1978) is killed.
    April 17, 1985 Billy Ray Irick is arrested and confesses to murdering Paula.
    October 26, 1986, Irick went on trial for killing Dyer.
    November 1, 1986, Irick is convicted
    December 3, 1986, Irick is sentenced to death
    May 4, 1987, Irick's first date of execution
    August 9, 2018, Billy Ray Irick is executed by the State of Tennessee

    So 33 years, 3 months, and 24 days after the murder of Paula Kay Dyer, Billy Ray is executed. This isn't justice; this is torture.

    I'm not arguing for a repeal of the death penalty. What I'm saying is that real justice in a case like this should take no more than 30 days, and the method of execution should be, beyond any question, a firing squad. This being Tennessee, the State should be able to find six volunteers who will not only execute the prisoner, but will supply their own rifle and ammunition.

    But 33 years? The time in prison is absolutely obscene.

  2. Whatever the merits of the death penalty in the abstract, and putting aside the 30-day issue, the 33 years is, indeed, a travesty - and torture.