Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to intervene in the planned execution of a Tennessee man convicted of raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in 1986.
Irick's lawyers said the state's lethal injection cocktail, including midazolam, a sedative, may not work effectively and could leave the man in pain.
States began using midazolam to replace pentobarbital after European makers of the latter drug halted sales to the United States for use in executions. Critics of the drug's use in lethal injections question its effectiveness, blaming it for prolonged and apparently painful executions, including that of Dennis McGuire in Ohio and Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma.
Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor disagreed with the court's decision not to stay the case.
"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," Sotomayor wrote in her dissent," she wrote in her dissent.
"I cannot in good conscience join in this 'rush to execute' without first seeking every assurance that our precedent permits such results...if the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism."
The Tennessee Department of Correction said it served Irick his last meal at 3 p.m., a "super deluxe" hamburger, onion rings and a Pepsi.