Tennessee's oldest death row inmate dies - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee's oldest death row inmate dies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Department of Correction says the state's oldest and longest serving death row inmate has died of natural causes.

Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said 68-year-old Richard Austin was found dead in his cell at the DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville on Sunday. He spent 30 years on death row.       Austin was sentenced to death in 1978 after a conviction in Shelby County of accessory before the fact to murder.

Austin was found to have hired a fugitive from prison to kill undercover policeman Julian Watkins. Watkins was investigating illegal gambling operations at the Golden Cue, a Memphis establishment that Austin owned.

Austin was the first person sentenced to die under Tennessee's current death penalty law, which was enacted in 1977.


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