Family who lost loved ones to death row inmate react to execution decision

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 5:27 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - 29-year-old Angela Clay and her two young daughters were killed in 1987. The little girls were 6 and 9 years old.

Linette Bell is Angela’s sister and she will never forget what happened.

“We feel that we have not gotten any type of justice for three decades. It is three decades too long.”

Byron Black was convicted in the triple slaying. Linette says Black was scheduled to be executed this coming august, after years of delays.

“I was just at the graveyard last week, sitting out there talking to my sister,” Linette said. “We almost there my girl. We almost there, sis. We got you. I am not giving up. Hmm. A week later. Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring.”

Linette got the call yesterday from the Attorney General’s office that all executions are being paused for the rest of the year.

“My momma right here is 85 years old,” Linette points out. “She needs to see her justice before she leaves this world, and so does the whole entire family.”

This comes after another death row inmate, Oscar Smith, received a temporary reprieve from his execution a little more than a week ago, due to an oversight in preparation for lethal injection.

Governor Bill Lee announced plans on Monday to launch a third-party review of the process and is pausing the rest of scheduled executions this year for the review.

“The death penalty is an incredibly important issue and very important to me we make certain every process is being followed,” Governor Lee explained after a bill signing in Franklin on Monday afternoon.

Angela’s husband and father of the two girls, Bennie Clay, is also devastated.

Bennie was also shot by Byron Black on that day in 1987. Investigators removed the bullet from Bennie’s shoulder to compare it to bullets later used in his wife and daughters’ killings.

Bennie still has the scars.

“It is killing us slowly by slowly,” he admitted. “Taking a little bit of our life, keep going on and on, off and off, that ain’t good.”

Linette feels like the state does not care about her family.

“To me, they made me feel like it’s been three decades ago, they should have forgot about that by now,” Linette said. “That is something we won’t forget until they throw dirt in our face.”

The governor said victims are very important to him, and his office is in contact with the families impacted.

Linette said they have not heard from the governor, or anyone else from his office.

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