- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015
Tennessee executioner barred from testifying for now

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee’s executioner will not testify in a trial challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection, at least for the time being.

The state Court of Appeals issued the order Wednesday afternoon in response to an emergency request filed earlier in the day by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. In his motion, Slatery echoed an earlier ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that the executioner’s testimony is irrelevant because the case challenges the written lethal injection protocols, not how they are carried out by a specific person. Slatery also said there could be “irreparable harm” if the executioner’s identity becomes known, despite efforts to conceal it.

The case is being heard in Davidson County Chancery Court, where Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman on Tuesday ordered the executioner to testify by telephone with his or her voice disguised.

The plaintiffs in the case are 33 death row inmates. Their attorneys are trying to show that lethal injection is likely to cause extreme pain and suffering. They also claim it will subject their clients to a lingering death.

The Court of Appeals gave the inmates’ attorneys until July 29 to file a response stating why the state’s executioner should testify.

The case has been repeatedly sidetracked over legal disputes that have gone to the state Supreme Court twice already.

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Community members asked to help care for troubled cemetery

BARTLETT, Tenn. (AP) - The receiver overseeing a Memphis-area cemetery that was closed after its owner was arrested has reached out to community members concerning the future care of the property.

Documents filed in Davidson County chancery court say no one has been buried at Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett since it was placed in receivership in February 2014 following the filing of criminal charges against owner Jemar Lambert. He has since pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 10 years’ probation for mishandling burials.

Documents filed Wednesday say the receiver will continue discussions during the next six months with people in Shelby County concerning the future maintenance, upkeep and possible opening of the cemetery. The filing says the receiver is working to decide whether the cemetery will be able to handle future burials.

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Second man accused of arson at old Nashville motel

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A second man has been charged with aggravated arson in a fire at an old Nashville motel that injured two people.

Multiple media outlets reported on Wednesday that 27-year-old Joshua Brooks has been arrested and accused of lighting the shuttered Harding Inn on fire on July 7.

According to an affidavit, Brooks admitted to being involved in the fire and then watching the motel burn.

Six people, including a pregnant woman, had to be rescued from a balcony. Two of them were treated with non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators say Brooks told them he knew people were living inside when he set the fire.

Twenty-nine-year-old Antoine Dewayne Clark has already been charged with aggravated arson.

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Metro Nashville worker killed in accident

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Metro Nashville Public Works employee has died after being hit by a garbage truck.

Police said the worker, 19-year-old Chandler Harris, was riding on the back of the garbage truck late Tuesday when the driver backed into an alley. Police said Harris was pinned between the truck and a wall before falling under the rear passenger tires.

Harris died at the scene.

Metro Police Capt. Jason Starling says officers are investigating, but it appears to be a tragic accident.

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