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Monday, February 19, 2018

Slatery seeks execution for Sutton
Attorney General Herbert Slatery is seeking execution dates for eight inmates on Tennessee's death row, including a Morristown man convicted of multiple murders. The state hasn't conducted an inmate execution in nearly a decade. Slatery says the eight executions he is seeking are for men who "have long since concluded the standard three-tier appeals process and each case has been thoroughly litigated in the state courts and on federal review through the United States Supreme Court." But Tennessee Department of Correction officials have been warned that the new cocktail of lethal injection drugs they plan to use might not work as intended. That warning is also cited in filings by attorneys representing five death row inmates who intend to challenge the new lethal injection protocol. Slatery says in a release that the state's ability to carry out executions by lethal injection "after June 1, 2018, is uncertain due to the ongoing difficulty in obtaining the necessary lethal injection chemicals," suggesting he believes the state should attempt to carry out eight executions in less than four months. If lethal injection drugs are unavailable, the state is also legally permitted to use the electric chair. One of the men Slatery wants to execute is Nicholas Todd “Nicky” Sutton, 57, who had been scheduled to die in 2015 but the execution was delayed. He has twice been convicted of capital murder. The first death sentence came in connection with the death of Knoxville contractor Charles P. Almon III, 46, in late 1979. Almon’s body was wrapped in a sheet, chained to a concrete block, then thrown into a rock quarry off Golf Course Road outside of Newport. The defendant was sentenced to death by electrocution in connection with Almon’s killing, but the method was changed to lethal injection when Tennessee’s law changed to require lethal injection as Tennessee’s sole method of execution. Sutton also was sentenced to death for the stabbing death of fellow inmate Carl Estep in 1985, at the Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility in Wartburg, Tennessee. But the defendant has a long history of criminal activities. In 1980, at the age of 18, Sutton was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his grandmother. Fifty-eight-year-old Dorothy Sutton, a retired teacher of Morristown, was severely beaten, wrapped in a sheet tied with tire chains and a cinder block, and then thrown into the Nolichucky River in December, 1979. She reportedly died of drowning. Sutton had beaten her to death with a piece of firewood after she discovered that he had earlier murdered two men. He was eligible for parole after 30 years. Two weeks after he was convicted, in April, 1980, Sutton led investigators to the grave of John M. Large, 19, of Morristown, a boyhood friend, near his aunt's cabin at Mt. Sterling, N.C. Sutton not only killed Large, and buried him in a shallow grave; a tobbaco stake was driven through the mouth of the victim to mark the location of the grave. He reportedly had been killed in July, 1978. The plea agreement in the Large death provided for Sutton to serve a sentence concurrently with the sentence imposed for the killing of Mrs. Sutton. Later divers looking for the body of an unrelated murder victim found the body of Almon in 90 feet of water in the Cocke County quarry. It was adjacent to a car which investigators said had been stolen in Hamblen County by Sutton, two weeks earlier. Almon reportedly had been killed near Mt. Sterling in late 1979 and taken to the Newport quarry three weeks later. Investigators found the belt of Almon near the Long grave. The skulls of all three victims had been crushed, and according to investigators, Sutton said he had a $100 per day cocaine habit. On January 15, 1985, Nicholas Sutton, along with inmates Thomas Street and Charles Freeman, entered the cell of Carl Estep. Other inmates observed the three entering the cell and heard Estep scream while the three were inside the cell. Guards discovered Estepp had been stabbed 38 times. Sutton was sentenced to death for the stabbing. Court documents indicate that Sutton was raised in an unstable and violent household. His father was mentally ill and institutionalized for part of Nicholas’ childhood. His mother abandoned him when he was young, and so he was adopted by his grandmother. Sutton briefly joined the Navy when he was 17, however he was soon given an honorable discharge, with records indicating that he was unable to adjust to military life. Lethal injections in Tennessee had been put on hold by the Tennessee Supreme Court after objections were raised regarding the lethal injection used by Tennessee. But Slatery says the US Supreme Court has denied two appeals filed regarding lethal injections in 2017 and this year, “Thus , the defendant's challenge to the lethal injection protocol is finally concluded, and this Court's, April 10, 2015 reprieve is lifted or dissolved”, says Slatery.

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