Death Row Inmate Went From Life-Taker to Lifesaver


Tennessee death row inmate Nicholas Sutton should be spared from execution because he transformed himself in prison from a killer to someone who saved the lives of prison employees and fellow inmates, his attorneys argue in a clemency petition.

Sutton was sentenced to death in 1985 for stabbing fellow inmate Carl Estep to death after a confrontation over a drug deal. Sutton, now 58, was 23 years old at the time and already serving a life sentence for killing his grandmother when he was 18 years old. He had also been convicted of murdering Charles Almon and John Large in North Carolina when he was 18.

The petition sent to Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday, a little more than a month before Sutton’s scheduled execution date of Feb. 20, says that Sutton takes responsibility for these deaths and is “profoundly remorseful.” While the petition says Sutton makes no justification for the murders, his attorneys point out that he was raised by a violent, abusive and mentally ill father who introduced him to drugs at the age of 12.

Death row was the first stable environment Sutton had ever lived in, his attorneys argue, and it also allowed him to get off drugs for the first time in many years. Sobriety and stability allowed Sutton to better himself and transform his life, they argue.


BY: Travis Loller



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