Nicholas Sutton, Tennessee

Update: Thursday, February 20, 2020

Nicholas Sutton has been executed by the state of Tennessee.  Read more here.

Update: Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to halt the execution of Nicholas Sutton.

Update: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has announced that he will not grant clemency to death row inmate Nicholas Sutton.  In his announcement, Governor Lee stated that the decision to not intervene in the case and grants clemency was made after a through review of the case.  Supports of Nicholas argued that he is not the same man who was sentenced to death and that since his conviction, he has helped numerous people inside of prison, including guards.

Update: Monday, February 17, 2020

Nicholas Todd Sutton is scheduled to be executed at 7:10 pm local time, on Thursday, February 20, 2020, at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Fifty-eight-year-old Nicholas has been sentenced to death for the murder of fellow inmate Carl Estep on January 15, 1985, at the Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility in Wartburg, Tennessee. Nicholas has spent the last 33 years on Tennessee’s death row.

Nicholas was raised in an unstable and violent household. His father was mentally ill and institutionalized for part of Nicholas’ childhood. His mother abandoned him when he was young. As a young teen, Nicholas was using several different drugs and had several altercations with the police. He dropped out of school in the 11th grade, although he obtained a GED in 1978. Nicholas briefly joined the Navy when he was 17 years of age, however he was quickly given an honorable discharge, with records indicating that he was unable to adjust to military life.

In 1979, the age of 18, Nicholas was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his grandmother. He had beaten her to death after she discovered that he had murdered two other people.

On January 15, 1985, Nicholas Sutton, along with Thomas Street and Charles Freeman, entered the cell of Carl Estep. Other inmates observed the three entering the cell and heard Carl scream while the three were inside the cell. Guards discovered Carl around 10 am that day. Carl had been stabbed 38 times. A witness testified that he had watched Sutton stab Carl through the window of the cell. Freeman was eventually acquitted of the crime, while Sutton and Street were convicted. Sutton was sentenced to death. Street was sentenced to life in prison.

Nicholas Sutton was previously scheduled to be executed in 2015. His execution was stayed by the Tennessee Supreme Court due to legal issues surrounding the execution protocol.


Nicholas has chosen to be executed by electrocution instead of lethal injection.  Inmates sentenced to death before 1999, are eligible to choose if they want to be executed by lethal injection or the electric chair.  Four out of the last five inmates have chosen to be executed by electrocution over the lethal injection. 


According to a clemency petition sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, since being sent to death row, Nicholas has become a changed man, expressing profound remorse for the murders he committed. Additionally, prison employees have credited Nicholas with saving their lives through protecting officials, escorting them away from fights, and alerting authorities when another official slipped and hit their head. The petition also lists instances in which Nicholas assisted other prisoners, such as carrying around another inmate who had developed multiple sclerosis and was denied access to a wheelchair or walker.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to stay Nicholas' execution.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Carl Estep and for all those affected by Nicholas' crimes. Please pray for strength for the family of Nicholas. Please pray that if Nicholas is innocent or lacks the competency to be executed that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Nicholas may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



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