Supreme Court Sets Execution Date

January 18, 2018

The Tennessee Supreme Court set an execution date of August 9, 2018, for Billy Ray Irick, who was convicted of the 1985 murder and rape of Paula Kay Dyer, age 7, in Knox County, Tennessee. The Court received notice from the State Attorney General on January 11, 2018, that the United States Supreme Court had denied the defendant’s appeal challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. Under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 12.4(E), the Court, on its own, may set a new execution date when a case with a previous execution date had stays or reprieves lifted or dissolved. Mr. Irick has had multiple previous execution dates.

The Court also received notice on January 11, 2018, that eight other capital cases had certiorari denied by the United States Supreme Court. Those cases are: State v. Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman, State v. Lee Hall a/k/a Leroy Hall, Jr., State v. Donnie Johnson, State v. David Earl Miller, State v. Nicholas Todd Sutton, State v. Stephen Michael West, State v. Charles Walton Wright, and State v. Edmund Zagorski. In all of these cases, previous execution dates have been set and the defendants have completed the three-tier appeals process: direct appeal, post-conviction relief, and federal habeas corpus. As of now, no new execution date has been set in these cases.   

Currently, there are two other Tennessee cases with execution dates set: State v. James Hawkins and State v. Sedrick Clayton. In both of those cases, the defendants’ respective convictions were affirmed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2017, ending only their direct appeals. Although execution dates were set as a result of those decisions, both defendants still have time remaining to file a petition for post-conviction relief. In addition, they later may file for federal habeas corpus relief.

The order resetting Mr. Irick’s execution date is available online. Additional information on pending capital cases is also available online.