State's first execution of 2018 postponed
Tennessee death row inmate James Hawkins' planned execution Wednesday is now on hold while he seeks post-conviction relief from his murder conviction.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft granted Hawkins' petition April 11 to put off his execution, records show.
The state had set Hawkins' execution date for Wednesday, May 9. The state Supreme Court upheld Hawkins' conviction in May 2017.
Hawkins was to be the first of several Tennessee inmates to be put to death this year, including David Miller and Billy Ray Irick, both of whom have Knox County convictions. The state uses lethal injection for executions.
Hawkins, however, had a year to exercise his option to seek post-conviction relief following the high court's confirmation of his conviction. He formally filed notice March 20 seeking relief, which is routine,and Craft in turn agreed to put off the execution.
"This stay is to remain in effect during the pendency of (Hawkins') post-conviction proceedings and appeals," Craft's order states.
Neysa Taylor, Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman, referred questions about what happens next in Hawkins' case to the court.
Irick is set to be executed Aug. 9 in the killing of a Knoxville girl in 1985.
Miller is to be executed Dec. 6 in the killing of a woman found stabbed to death in 1981 on the grounds of a South Knoxville home.
It's not unusual for executions to be put off.
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