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The Latest: Tennessee inmates challenge execution method

October 3, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on legal challenge to Tennessee’s lethal injection method (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

With an execution scheduled for next week, 32 death row inmates are asking Tennessee’s high court to declare the state’s lethal injection method unconstitutional.

Inmates’ attorney Kelley Henry said in arguments before the court Wednesday that “unassailable science” shows Tennessee’s latest three-drug cocktail will cause excruciating pain. Referencing the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, she told the court that it should rule for the plaintiffs “if the 8th Amendment means anything.”

But U.S. Supreme Court precedent requires the inmates to show a more humane alternative is available. Associate Solicitor General Jennifer Smith argued the inmates were unable to meet that requirement.

Edmund Zagorski is scheduled to be executed Oct. 11. He was sentenced in 1984 in the slayings of two men during a drug deal.

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11:20 p.m.

With an inmate set to be executed next week, Tennessee’s Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday about the constitutionality of its lethal injection method.

The lawsuit by more than two dozen inmates claims the state’s three-drug method of execution causes severe pain and suffering. Attorneys for the inmates want the court to consider the affidavit of an expert witness who claims the August execution of Billy Ray Irick was “torturous.”

Attorneys for the state oppose the introduction of the new evidence. They’re asking the high court to uphold a lower court’s July finding that its method of execution is legal.

Edmund Zagorski is scheduled to be executed on Oct. 11. He was sentenced in 1984 in the slayings of two men during a drug deal.

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