TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jul 17, 2020

Gov. Bill Lee announced late this afternoon that he would delay the upcoming execution of death row inmate Harold Wayne Nichols due to “challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Nichols was set to be executed on Aug. 4 for the 1988 rape and murder of Karen Pulley in Hamilton County. Lee’s order postpones the execution until 2021 when the Tennessee Supreme Court will have to set a new execution date, the Tennessean reports. Nichols’ attorneys had recently sued to stop the execution in federal court, but the case had not yet been heard. Today’s move marks the first time Lee has intervened in a capital case. Two previous executions were delayed by the Tennessee Supreme Court due to the pandemic. Oscar Franklin Smith's June 4 execution date was delayed until next February while Byron Lewis Black's Oct. 8 execution date was reset for next April.