Tennessee governor declines to intervene as execution looms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s governor said Tuesday that he will not intervene in the scheduled execution later this week of an inmate convicted of fatally stabbing and shooting his estranged wife and her sons decades ago.

Attorneys for 72-year-old Oscar Smith had asked Republican Gov. Bill Lee for clemency, citing problems with the jury in his 1990 trial. Smith is set to receive a lethal injection on Thursday.

Lee issued a one-sentence statement declining to step in.

“After thorough consideration of Oscar Smith’s request for clemency and an extensive review of the case, the State of Tennessee’s sentence will stand, and I will not be intervening,” Lee wrote.

Smith was convicted of fatally stabbing and shooting Judith Smith and her sons, Jason and Chad, 13 and 16, at their Nashville home on Oct. 1, 1989. A Davidson County jury sentenced him to death the following year.

Smith has maintained that he is innocent. His attorneys were denied requests to reopen his case after a new type of DNA analysis found the DNA of an unknown person on one of the murder weapons.

The state has not put any inmates to death since February 2020, when Nicholas Sutton died in the electric chair. Executions were put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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