Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issues temporary reprieve for Oscar Smith

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a temporary reprieve for Oscar Smith on Thursday, WKRN.com reports. “Due to an oversight in preparation for lethal injection, the scheduled execution of Oscar Smith will not move forward tonight. I am granting a temporary reprieve while we address Tennessee Department of Correction protocol,” Lee said. The statement was released just hours before Smith was scheduled to be killed and after he ate his last meal.

His was to be the first of five executions planned for this year.

Smith, who is 72, was convicted of the 1989 murder of his estranged wife, Judy Robirds Smith, and her two sons.

But according to Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Smith was convicted based on “discredited junk science,” and “at least two jurors have said they did not intend for Smith to be executed.”

TADP said that palm print analysis introduced at Smith’s trial, which the prosecution described as its “most important piece of evidence,” has been reviewed by a “renowned expert in fingerprint analysis.” She stated that the methodology of latent print examination has changed significantly in the last 30 years, making the evidence outdated and unreliable. In addition, the court had denied a defense request that the jury be instructed on how long Smith would be required to serve before being parole-eligible, convincing at least two jurors to vote for death because they erroneously believed he’d be eligible in 13 years.   

There are 48 men and one woman on Tennessee’s death row. Its last execution was in 2020.

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