Billy Ray Irick, 59, was executed at 7:48 p.m. local time on Thursday in Nashville for the brutal rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in Knox Co., Tenn. in 1985. Irick had been on death row for more than 30 years. Following the execution by lethal injection, the Catholic bishops of Knoxville and Nashville issued a statement:
We, as the Roman Catholic bishops of Nashville and Knoxville, proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Life and Light.
Tonight’s execution of Billy Ray Irick was unnecessary. It served no useful purpose.
In this time of sadness, that began many years ago with the tragic and brutal death of Paula Dyer and continues with another death tonight, we believe that only Jesus Christ can bring consolation and peace.
We continue to pray for Paula and for her family. And we also pray for Billy Ray Irick, that his final human thoughts were of remorse and sorrow for we believe that only Christ can serve justice.
We pray for the people of Tennessee that they will embrace the Light and Life that is Jesus Christ. And we hope that we may all come to cherish the dignity that His love instills in every person — at every stage of life.
Most Reverend Richard F. Stika Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding
Diocese of Knoxville Diocese of Nashville