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Death row inmates sue Tennessee for right to firing squad execution

By
Daniel Uria

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Inmates on Tennessee's death row filed a lawsuit demanding the state add firing squad as a form of execution in addition to lethal injection and the electric chair.

Inmates Todd Sutton, Terry Lynn King, Stephen Michael West and David Earl Miller filed the lawsuit, saying a firing squad would be faster and less painful than lethal injection or electrocution. Miller is the next inmate scheduled to be executed in the state.

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The suit says firing squad is feasible as the state has firearms, ammunition and trained marksmen available. Big Buck Shooting Range is located at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, a site where executions are already carried out.

It also notes that Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah currently allow executions by firing squad.

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In the event the court rules against the firing squad, the lawsuit suggests several other alternative forms of execution.

One such alternative would be administering lethal drugs orally in sweet liquids such as fruit juice.

The suit also suggests altering the state's current three-drug lethal injection drug cocktail to remove vecuronium bromide in order to reduce the chance the inmate is tortured, or changing to a one-drug protocol using pentobarbital.

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Tennessee prison officials said they are unable to obtain pentobarbital, while attorneys for the inmates said they haven't made enough of an effort.

The lawsuit also seeks an order allowing two defense attorneys to be present during an execution in the event one must exit the room.

As part of the suit, attorneys have asked that Miller's execution, scheduled for Dec. 6, be postponed until the court can hear the case.

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Tennessee used the electric chair to execute 63-year-old Edmund Zagorski on Thursday.

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