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Supporters of death row inmate to discuss execution reprieve


Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 12:45 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The legal team and supporters of Tennessee death row inmate Oscar Smith will have a press conference Thursday morning.

Smith’s scheduled execution last Thursday was postponed by Gov. Bill Lee in the final hour, citing “an oversight in preparation for lethal injection.” No other information was provided on the reason for stopping the execution. Lee’s reprieve remains in effect until June 1.

Tennessee is one of many states that use a midazolam-based lethal injection protocol. States that have recently discontinued using midazolam in lethal injections after problematic executions include Florida, Arizona, and Ohio.

Set to appear at the press conference are Kelley Henry and Amy Harwell, Federal Public Defender’s Office, Middle District of Tennessee; Rev. Matthew Lewis, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville; Steve Hale, AK Investigations, Nashville; Stacy Rector, Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; Dr. Phyllis Hildreth, American Baptist College, Nashville; Rev. Davie Tucker, Beech Creek Baptist Church, Nashville; and Professor James Ruble, University of Utah College of Pharmacy.

Lee has not provided further details on the oversight that delayed the execution. In a statement last week, he said that “further details will be released when they are available.”

Smith’s execution was to be the first in Tennessee since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was convicted of murder in the 1989 triple slayings of his estranged wife, Judith Robirds Smith, and her two sons from a previous marriage, Chad and Jason Burnett. He received the death penalty in all three cases.

At age 72, Smith is currently the oldest person on Tennessee’s Death Row.

The press conference begins at 11 a.m. Watch live in the News4 app.

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