Tennessee pushes for execution of death row inmates

Tennessee Attorney General wants executions scheduled for 9 inmates

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Execution dates could soon be set for several convicted killers in Tennessee.

Many have been on death row for decades.

Tennessee’s attorney general wants to execute nine inmates, two of which are from Shelby County.

One of the two is convicted in a notorious triple murder.

Tony Carruthers was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murders of three people; 17-year-old Frederick Tucker, 21-year-old Marcellous Anderson and Anderson’s 43-year-old mother Delores Anderson.

It was a notorious, high-profile case, in which Carruthers and another man were accused of murdering the three people then burying the bodies in a freshly-dug grave the next day at a South Memphis cemetery.

Prosecutors said Delores Anderson was still breathing when she was buried.

WMC Action News 5 interviewed Tony Carruthers on death row in 2007.

Carruthers chased off six of his defense attorneys and peppered the courts with appeals.

“I’m not going to be executed. I’m going to be exonerated," said Carruthers.

The second Shelby County case, Pervis Payne, convicted in the 1987 murders of Charisse Christopher and her two-year-old daughter Lacie in Millington.

Investigators say Christopher was an acquaintance of Payne’s.

Attorney Robert Hutton, who has extensive experience with death penalty cases, says the reason the Tennessee Attorney General asked the Supreme Court to schedule the executions of nine death row inmates is because they have exhausted their appeals.

“The attorney general requests the date be set at that time the defense has a right to respond. They could challenge that," said Hutton.

Federal Public Defender Kelly Henry says she will oppose the executions. Hutton says the request for the execution dates comes at a time when other states that have the death penalty are moving away from executions.

He says even in Tennessee, jurors are not choosing death very often because they have the choice of life without parole. Years ago it was death or life with parole.

“There’s a lot of evidence that jurors voted for death because back then we never executed anybody and they were afraid if you got life with parole you were going to be out in 10 years," said Henry.

Robert Hutton says if the executions do go forward the first one likely won’t happen for at least six months.

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