Nicolas Sutton was hit with multiple life sentences for killing three people, including his own grandmother. Then he received a death sentence for killing a child rapist while serving time in jail.
Sutton is scheduled to be killed via the electric chair on Thursday, and his clemency petition was rejected by the governor of Tennessee.
Correctional officers are asking for Sutton to be spared due to his transformational and apparently life-saving behavior in prison, pleading that the criminal serve out his life sentences and eventually die without being killed by the state. According to CBS News, Sutton’s victims’ families don’t want him on death row, either.
A petition for Sutton’s clemency, dated January 14, starts: “Nick Sutton has gone from a life-taker to a life-saver. Five Tennesseans, including three prison staff members, owe their lives to him. The support of his victims’ families, correction staff, jurors and those whose lives he’s saved attest that a life sentence meets the imperatives of justice and mercy.”
Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee denied Sutton’s clemency petition on Wednesday.
“After careful consideration of Nicholas Sutton’s request for clemency and a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the State of Tennessee and will not be intervening,” reads a statement from Governor Lee.
However, as noted by CBS, “A final decision can be handed down until the minute Sutton sits in the electric chair.”
“Sutton, 58, was convicted of killing four people, including his grandmother Dorothy Sutton, his high school friend John Large, and Charles Almon,” Knox News outlined. “He was sentenced to death for his involvement in the stabbing and killing of fellow inmate Carl Estep in 1985.” Estep, according to the outlet, was a convicted “child rapist.”
Former corrections officer Tony Eden credits Sutton with saving his life during the 1985 riots at the Tennessee State Prison.
“I have four boys and a girl now who probably wouldn’t be here if that day turned out differently,” Eden told CBS News. “I wouldn’t have the life I have today if it weren’t for Nick.”
The former corrections officer says Sutton could have asked to cash in a favor after saving his life, though he never did, except for when Sutton asked him to be his best man.
“He asked me to be the best man in his wedding,” recalled Eden. “That’s the only thing he ever asked for that I know of. And all he wanted was just for me to stand there.”
“The eldest daughter of the inmate Sutton killed has joined the effort to spare his life,” CBS reported. “In a clemency petition filed on January 14, she advocates against the execution, saying ‘the pain and suffering her family has endured would only be made worse’ if Sutton was killed.”
Attorney for Sutton, Kevin Sharp, argued that folks like Sutton keep jails safer.
“You need people like Nick who make the place safer,” Sharp told CBS. “He’s not getting out, all we’re asking for is the governor commute his execution. He would still die in prison, just not by the electric chair.”
“He has saved the lives of three corrections officials during his incarceration; his request for clemency was supported by seven former and current Tennessee correction professionals, family members of victims, five of the original jurors and others,” Sharp added, according to UPI.