NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee carried out the execution Thursday of a man condemned for the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, marking the first time the state has applied the death penalty in nearly a decade.
Hours earlier Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution, denying Billy Ray Irick's request for a stay, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent, recounting details from a recent state court trial of a case brought by inmates contesting Tennessee's execution drugs.
In a ruling late last month, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle wrote that attorneys for 33 death row inmates, including Irick, didn't prove that there is a substantially less painful means to carry out an execution or that the drugs the state planned on using would cause the inmate to be tortured to death.
Supporters and opponents of the death penalty turned out Thursday evening in places around the state.
The Tennessean newspaper reported death penalty opponents gathered around Tennessee in several churches and outside the prison before the execution.