The State of Tennessee has the execution of Tennessee Death Row inmate Billy Ray Irick scheduled for August 9, 2018. Irick’s defense lawyers are working very hard to stop this from happening.
This case is yet another example of the importance of zealous, aggressive, and experienced Death Penalty Defense attorneys during the investigation and initial trial of someone for whom the state is seeking capital punishment. When the defendant suffers from mental illness, there must be an extensive effort made to delve into his childhood (from his earliest days forward), as well as gathering expert analysis of his mental state at the time of the alleged capital crime.
Terry Lenamon is not involved in this Tennessee case. For more regarding the issues including investigation and presentation of mitigating factors involving psychological issues in:
- Mental Illness and the Death Penalty
- Fulgham Trial: Jury Finds Joshua Fulgham Guilty in Quick Deliberation, Terry Lenamon Defends in Penalty Phase of Trial, Example of Florida Statutes Mitigating Factors In Application
- Closing Argument in Death Penalty Trial of William Wells
- Schizophrenia Doesn’t Stop Execution of Mentally Ill Florida Death Row Inmate John Errol Ferguson This Week
- Will Cal Coburn Brown Be Executed in Single-Drug Lethal Injection by Washington State Tomorrow, Despite His Mental Illness? Probably.
Battleground No. 1: Method of Execution
Irick’s lawyers are arguing against the method of execution on one battleground. This week, they filed arguments against the lethal injection method of execution that Tennessee is planning on using in Irick’s execution. For details, read “Attorneys Seek Stay of Execution for Billy Ray Irick,” written by Steven Hale and published on July 30, 2018, in the Nashville Scene.
Read the full 110 page Motion to Vacate Execution Date filed with the Tennessee Supreme Court here.
Battleground No. 2: Mental Illness and Assistance of Counsel
There is no controversy regarding whether or not Billy Ray Irick raped and murdered 7 year old Paula Dyer in 1986, a crime for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. He confessed shortly after he was arrested.
The issue today is the longstanding mental illness suffered by Billy Ray Irick, and the questionable actions of his lawyers during both the guilt and sentencing phases of his criminal trial. For instance, no defense witnesses were called during the trial phase. None.
From the Appellant’s Brief filed in 2010 on behalf if Billy Ray Irick we know that while some factual evidence was presented during the trial of Billy Ray Irick’s mental state, it was not entered during the trial phase but during sentencing. This consisted of testimony provided by or through Nina BraswellLunn, a clinical social worker at the Knoxville Mental Health Center. It covered the limited time period between Irick being six and eight years old. That is it.
It was not until after Billy Ray Irick was sentenced to die and the appellate process began that evidence of Irick’s hallucinations and recurring psychosis was discovered. Indeed, at the time of the crime itself, witnesses provided sworn testimony that Irick was “hearing voices” and obviously mentally ill.
None of this was presented to the jury given the responsibility of deciding between life and death in sentencing.
Accordingly, based upon the evidence of his continuing and severe mental illness, including his mental state on the day of the crime, his defense team continues their fight to stop the execution of Billy Ray Irick.
From their 2010 brief, page 56-57:
Though great deal of time has elapsed since Irick’s original trial and even since the discovery of the Jeffers information, as explained above, Irick and his attorneys were in no position to file petition for writ of error coram nobis for the reasons stated above. Therefore, due process requires that the facts presented herein be considered on their merits. When his case is considered on the merits in light of the newly discovered evidence and the opinions of mental health experts, Irick is confident that the only just sentence is one other than death. Therefore, Irick respectfully requests that this court reverse the trial court and enter such order as will relieve him of the sentence of death.
Note: For an excellent analysis of the current Tennessee situation, read “TENNESSEE PLANS TO RESTART EXECUTIONS BY KILLING A MAN WITH MENTAL ILLNESS,” written by Liliana Segura and published by The Intercept on July 15, 2018.