Judge rules Tennessee can use

lethal injection drugs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge on Thursday upheld the state’s use of controversial drugs to execute inmates after a challenge by 33 inmates on death row.

Federal public defender Kelley Henry, one of the lawyers representing the inmates, said the plaintiffs will appeal.

In his ruling, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle said the inmates failed to meet two necessary bars, The Tennessean reported. Lyle ruled the lawyers didn’t prove that there is a substantially less painful means to carry out the execution or that the drugs the state plans to use would cause the inmate to be tortured to death.

“Although dreadful and grim, it is the law that while surgeries should be pain-free, there is no constitutional requirement for that with executions,” Lyle wrote, echoing an argument made by attorneys for the state.

Attorneys for the state and the inmates concluded a nearly two-week trial Tuesday over the new lethal injection procedure.

Tennessee’s first execution since 2009 is scheduled for Aug. 9.

Calif. wildfire in Gold Rush county grows

SHASTA CITY, Calif. (AP) — California authorities say a wildfire ripping through Shasta County in the north has grown Thursday after tripling in size overnight.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials say the fire that started in the Whiskeytown community is 45 square miles (115 square kilometers).

The fire was 31 square miles (80 square kilometers) Thursday morning.

Officials say the fire is about 10 percent contained.

A state parks official says employees worked through the night to save historic artifacts from a Northern California Gold Rush-era museum threatened by wildfire.

Acting District Superintendent Matt Teague says he helped clear out keepsakes early Thursday from the old courthouse in Shasta State Historic Park.

Teague says staff and volunteers were mindful of the brightening glow of the fire burning nearby in the hills above Redding.

Teague says they almost had to abandon rescue efforts just before dawn. But the fire changed direction and they were able to work another five hours to save valuable paintings and prints.