Death row inmate David McNish dies in prison - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Death row inmate David McNish dies in prison

David McNish (SOURCE: TDOC) David McNish (SOURCE: TDOC)

An inmate on death row, serving time for the beating death of a grandmother, was found unresponsive Wednesday morning at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

According to the Tennessee Department of Correction, David McNish, 63, appears to have died of natural causes. However, the final determination will be made with a medical assessment by a coroner.

McNish was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death on August 15, 1984.

McNish was accused of beating his elderly neighbor, Gladys E. Smith, to death with a glass vase in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

According to official records, Smith refused to let McNish borrow money from her so he beat her in the head with a glass vase. Smith, 72, died from head injuries and McNish was charged with first-degree murder when he was caught trying to get out of the blood-stained clothes he was wearing.

Smith was bludgeoned to death with a glass vase that was in her apartment. McNish knew Smith because his parents and girlfriend lived in the same apartment building that the victim lived in. 

Law enforcement officials discovered bloodstained pants in the car that he was in at the time he was arrested. Although the blood tested positive to be Smith's blood, McNish told investigators that his pants became bloody with the victim's blood when he found her lying in the kitchen of her apartment and tried to move her into the living room.

McNish filed several appeals on his sentencing, including one filed in March 2000 to the Tennessee State Supreme Court that raised eight issues. In his appeal, he claimed that electocution was cruel and unusual punishment and raised the question as to if he was denied his right to effective counsel and representation. Some of the other issues he raised in his appeal were that the prosecutor withheld important and vital information, aggravating circumstances jurors used to sentence him to the death penalty were unconstitutional, and if he received a fair and full post-conviction hearing.

However, his appeals did not work and the Tennessee State Supreme Court affirmed his first-degree murder conviction and his death sentence. 

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