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Tennessee executes convicted murder, rapist

(AP) Tennessee has executed its first inmate since 2009, putting a man to death for the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old Knoxville girl.

Authorities say 59-year-old inmate Billy Ray Irick was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m. Thursday following a three-drug injection at a state prison in Nashville.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way on Thursday afternoon for the execution, denying Irick’s request for a stay. But Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent, recounting a recent state court trial of a case brought by 33 death row inmates challenging Tennessee’s execution drugs.

Since its last execution, Tennessee has endured legal challenges and difficulties securing execution drugs including its previous one, pentobarbital.

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