Death row inmate Nick Sutton has an unusual group of supporters seeking to block his scheduled execution Thursday. Among them are family members of his victims, as well as past and present prison workers calling for clemency. Sutton, 58, was sentenced to death in 1986 for killing fellow inmate Carl Estep in a conflict over a drug deal while both were incarcerated in an East Tennessee prison. Unless the governor or the courts intervene, Sutton is to be put to death Thursday in the electric chair. Estep's daughter said Sutton did her family a favor in a statement included in Sutton's clemency petition, calling Estep an "evil man" who was in prison for rape when Sutton killed him. At the time, Sutton was in prison for three murders he committed in 1979 when he was just 18, including that of his grandmother, reports the AP.
In the clemency petition, longtime friends describe a childhood marked by abuse and neglect, and later a spiral into drug abuse. But a recurring theme in the statements is that Sutton today isn't the same man who went to prison at 18. "I can confidently state that Nick Sutton is the most rehabilitated prisoner that I met working in maximum security prisons over the course of 30 years," ex-Correction Lt. Tony Eden stated in an affidavit. Eden believes Sutton may have saved his life during a 1985 prison riot by confronting a group of armed inmates who were trying to take Eden hostage. The mother of Paul House, an ex-death row inmate later freed when a judge overturned his conviction based on new evidence, says "my son would be dead if it wasn't for Nick." She said Sutton cared for her son after he developed multiple sclerosis in prison, including helping him eat and shower. (More here.)