The Latest: Inmate just before execution: 'I'm really sorry'

CORRECTS SPELLING OF PHOTOGRAPHER'S NAME TO MAYS INSTEAD OF MAYES - Kathy Jeffers, second from left, mother of victim Paula Dyer, arrives with relatives and friends for the execution of Billy Ray Irick at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. Irick is scheduled to receive a three-drug injection Thursday evening at the maximum-security prison in Nashville. He was convicted in 1986 in the death of Dyer, a Knoxville girl he was babysitting. (Shelley Mays/The Tennessean via AP)
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2010 file photo, Billy Ray Irick, on death row for raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in 1985, appears in a Knox County criminal courtroom in Knoxville, Tenn., arguing that he's too mentally ill to be executed by the state. The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to stay Thursday's Aug. 9, 2018, scheduled execution of the convicted child killer while the state's new lethal injection protocol continues to be challenged on appeal. The order brings Tennessee within days of killing Irick with a three-drug cocktail, barring some last-minute change. (Michael Patrick/The Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Latest on the execution of Tennessee inmate Billy Ray Irick (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Witnesses to Tennessee's first execution in nearly a decade say inmate Billy Ray Irick at first signaled he would have no last words, but then gave a brief statement to those watching.

Journalists present reported that the blinds between a witness room and the execution chamber were opened at 7:26 p.m. Thursday, and about a minute later, Irick was asked if he had any words before the lethal injection drugs began flowing. Irick was convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl he was babysitting.

At first he appeared to sigh and say "no." But then he said, "I just want to say I'm really sorry and that, that's it."

A minute later, his eyes closed. Snoring and heavy breathing were heard. Then at 7:34 p.m., there was coughing, huffing and deep breaths. An attendant began yelling "Billy" and checked the inmate and grabbed his shoulder, but there didn't seem to be any reaction. Two minutes later, Irick was not making any noise and began to turn dark purple.

He was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m.

___

7:50 p.m.

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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2:10 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down a request to stay the execution of a 59-year-old Tennessee inmate who was convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl.

The action came hours before the scheduled execution by lethal injection of Billy Ray Irick on Thursday evening.

The state Supreme Court denied a stay Monday, saying a lawsuit filed by inmates contesting the execution drugs being used wasn't likely to succeed.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent in the case Thursday. She wrote that the court is overlooking the potential for "torturous pain" by that method of execution.

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12:20 a.m.

Tennessee is set to execute a man for the 1985 rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl, in what would be the first time the state has applied the death penalty since 2009.

Fifty-nine-year-old inmate Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to receive a three-drug injection Thursday evening. He was convicted in the death of the Knoxville girl he was babysitting when she was slain.

The execution, if carried out, would occur a week after Pope Francis revealed new church teaching that deems the death penalty "inadmissible" under all circumstances.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court denied a stay of Irick's execution, saying a lawsuit filed by inmates contesting the execution drugs being used wasn't likely to succeed.

Gov. Bill Haslam also declined to intervene.

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