Tennessee Death Row Inmate Dies of Cancer Months Before Execution

May 20, 2019 Updated: May 20, 2019

A Tennessee death row inmate died of cancer just months before his scheduled execution in October 2019, it was reported.

Charles Walton Wright had pleaded with the state to let him die after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died on May 17 at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, reported The Tennessean newspaper, citing his lawyer, Kelley Henry.

He had been in the prison’s infirmary ward for months, he said.

A statement from the Tennessee Department of Correction confirmed that the inmate died of natural causes. He was bedridden and had terminal cancer that spread from his prostate to other parts of his body, the newspaper reported.

Henry said Wright’s legal team was grateful to the prison and medical staff the “professional and considerate care” during his illness.

“He has struggled a great deal these past six months. He fought mightily to beat his illness,” Henry told the paper. “He desperately wanted to one day touch the grass and eat his sister’s cooking. He will be missed.”

A former Rep. Bob Clement (D-Tenn. 5th District), pleaded to remove Wright from death row.

In a letter to former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, he said that his “health is deteriorating.”

“I’d like to see Charles be released and spend the last part of his life with his family and friends,” he said, Fox News reported.

Wright, in 1985, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering two people in Nashville during a drug dispute.

His death came hours after Donnie Edward Johnson, one of his friends on death row, was executed via lethal injection.

Death row inmate Don Johnson, who was executed on May 16, 2019, for the 1984 murder of his wife, Connie Johnson, in an undated file photo. (Tennessee Department of Corrections via AP)

Johnson Execution

Tennessee death row inmate who murdered his wife has turned down his special last meal ahead of his May 16 execution, asking instead for the food to be donated to a homeless person.

Don Johnson, 68, was sentenced to death for the 1984 slaying of his wife.

Connie Johnson, the death row inmate’s late wife, died by suffocation after he stuffed a 30-gallon trash bag down her throat.

He died by lethal injection.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday announced he will not intervene in the execution of Johnson, who has undergone an apparent religious conversion.

“After a prayerful and deliberate consideration of Don Johnson’s request for clemency, and after a thorough review of the case, I am upholding the sentence of the state of Tennessee and will not be intervening,” Lee said in his brief one-sentence statement.

The Tennessee Department of Correction was cited by the Tennessean as saying that instead of opting for a special last meal, Johnson would instead select from the same menu given to other prisoners of the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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