Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a temporary reprieve to a death row inmate Friday, citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Harold Wayne Nichols was convicted of raping and killing Karen Pulley in 1988. Before the reprieve was announced, Nichols was scheduled to be executed on August 4.
“I am granting Harold Wayne Nichols a temporary reprieve from execution until December 31, 2020, due to the challenges and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lee wrote on Twitter.
Some context: Nichols’ legal team had asked the Tennessee Supreme Court for a stay of execution due to coronavirus. "The pandemic has necessitated numerous restrictions which curb the activities of Mr. Nichols’ legal team," it said in the petition. However, the state’s high court unanimously denied the request on June 4.
Lee’s order does not state a specific reason why the execution should be delayed as a result of the pandemic.