Lesser Autopsy Sought in Tennessee Execution

Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers for an executed inmate who objected to autopsy on religious grounds said Friday they were negotiating with state officials for a less invasive procedure.

The negotiations followed a Tuesday ruling that the state can perform an autopsy on Phillip Workman to determine whether the May 9 execution was conducted properly.

Workman’s execution by lethal injection was the first conducted under newly revised Tennessee procedures.

Workman had said an autopsy would conflict with his Seventh Day Adventist religious beliefs, and his family had asked the state to release his body. U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell denied the request but delayed the autopsy so Workman’s lawyers had time to appeal.

Workman’s lawyers are seeking autopsy procedures similar to those performed for adherents of other religions with strict prohibitions, state medical examiner Dr. Bruce Levy told The Tennessean. That would involve visually inspecting but not removing the organs and relying on biopsies and fluid collection to provide details of the death.

If an agreement is reached, it would be up to the judge to decide whether the autopsy can go forward, Workman attorney Kelley Henry said.

No appeal has been filed, Henry said.

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AP, via SFGate.com, USA
May 18, 2007

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This post was last updated: Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 1:26 PM, Central European Time (CET)