February 21, 2020 / 1:44 AM / 2 months ago

Tennessee executes convicted killer by electric chair

(Reuters) - A death row inmate convicted more than three decades ago of stabbing a fellow prisoner to death over a drug deal gone bad was executed in Tennessee on Thursday in the electric chair.

Nicholas Todd Sutton, 58, was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m. CST at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, said Tylee Tracer, public information officer for the state department of corrections.

Sutton was the fourth inmate executed in the United States this year and the first in Tennessee. Since 2018, four other U.S. inmates have died in the electric chair.

Hours before Sutton was put to death, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his last bid to stay his death sentence. Earlier this week, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he would not intervene or grant Sutton’s request for clemency.

Sutton was serving time at the Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility for three murders when he carried out the prison slaying in 1985, according to court documents.

On the morning of Jan. 15, Sutton and Thomas Street entered Carl Estep’s cell and stabbed him 38 times in the chest and neck with two homemade knives, prosecutors said.

According to court records, four inmates testified they saw the men enter the cell and heard screaming. One of the inmates said he saw Sutton hold a knife to Estep’s throat during a “physical discussion” two days before.

One of the inmates also said Estep was a marijuana dealer at the facility who had sold the men “bad merchandise” and refused to refund their money.

He testified that after the men took Estep’s watch, Estep had threatened to kill Sutton.

In 1986, a Morgan County Criminal Court jury convicted Sutton of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death. Street was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. A third man who was accused of taking part in the attack was acquitted.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

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