An inmate at a Tennessee prison who saved the lives of three corrections officers is scheduled to be executed Thursday against the wishes of several former and current officials.
Nicholas Sutton was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death in 1985 for killing a fellow inmate at Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility. Before receiving the death sentence, Sutton had killed three other people, including his own grandmother, in 1979, when he was 18, according to Knox News.
Sutton’s legal team urged Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to move Sutton off death row and allow him to instead serve life without parole. The clemency petition sent to Lee was also supported by current and former corrections officers who said that Sutton was a model inmate who had saved multiple prison staffers from inmate violence, Knox News reported. Sutton also cared for the sick on death row, according to officials and jail staff. Lee reportedly rejected the petition Wednesday.
Yesterday, Sutton was moved to death watch.
During this period, the offender is placed in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber where he or she is under 24-hour observation by a team of correctional officers.
— Elizabeth Kuebel (@elizabethkuebel) February 19, 2020
The petition also says the five jurors who sentenced Sutton to the death penalty now also support a life sentence. Relatives of some of his victims also want to see mercy for Sutton, according to Knox News.
Retired Tennessee Department of Corrections lieutenant Tony Eden described the day a riot broke out at the prison not long after Sutton arrived at death row. (RELATED: Just Before Christmas In 1991, A Man Killed A Pastor With A Sword. Alabama Responded With Lethal Injection On Thursday)
“A group of five inmates, armed with knives and other weapons, surrounded me and attempted to take me hostage,” he wrote in an affidavit, according to the Intercept. “Nick and another inmate confronted them, physically removed me from the situation, and escorted me to the safety of the trap gate in another building.”
A current corrections officer recalls in an affidavit how in 1994, she fell and hit her head, dropping her keys and radio on the floor, afraid that an inmate would take advantage of the situation to harm her or cause a security breach. Sutton, however did the opposite, she wrote, according to the Intercept.
“He sprang into action, helped me to my feet, retrieved my keys and radio, and alerted staff to come to my assistance.”
Sutton’s execution is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST Thursday at Riverbend prison in Nashville, reports Knox News.
Sutton will be the fifth man executed by electrocution since 2018, and the first person to be put to death in Tennessee for killing a fellow inmate, Knox News reported.