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Supreme Court sets execution date for convicted child killer, rapist
By Jeaneane Payne

  billy ray irick
Billy Ray Irick, convicted of murder and rape of 7 year old girl in Knox County.
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee Supreme Court has set an execution date of August 9, 2018 for Billy Ray Irick who was convicted of the 1985 murder and rape of Paula Kay Dyer, age 7, in Knox County. The Court received notice from the State Attorney General on January 11, 2018 that the United States Supreme Court had denied the defendant’s appeal challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol. Under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 12.4(E), the Court, on its own, may set a new execution date when a case with a previous execution date had stays or reprieves lifted or dissolved. Irick has had multiple previous execution dates.

According to court records, Irick was a friend of the child’s mother and step-father. He had lived with them for a period of time and often cared for the five (5) young children in the family while the parents were working.

At the time of the incident the parents were separated. The step-father and the defendant were living with the victim’s step-father’s mother. On the night of the occurrence the victim’s mother left Irick with the children when she went to work. She was somewhat uneasy about this because Irick had been drinking, although he did not seem to be intoxicated. Irick was in a bad mood because he had been in an argument with the stepfather’s mother earlier in the day. Irick did not want to keep the children since he planned to leave Knoxville for Virginia that night.

The victim’s mother called her husband at the truck stop where he worked to tell him of her concerns. He reassured her and said he would check on the children.

About midnight the victim’s step-father received a telephone call from Irick telling him to come home, suggesting there was something wrong with the little girl, saying, “I can’t wake her up.” When the victim’s step-father arrived at the house Irick was waiting at the door. The child was lying on the living room floor with blood between her legs. After ascertaining she still had a pulse, the victim’s step-father wrapped her in a blanket and took her to Children’s Hospital. Efforts to resuscitate her there failed, and she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Physical examinations of her body at the hospital emergency room and during the autopsy were indicative of asphyxiation or suffocation. The cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest from inadequate oxygen to the heart. There was an abrasion to her nose near one eye and lesions on her right chin consistent with teeth or fingernail marks. Blood was oozing from her vagina, which had suffered an extreme tear extending into the pelvic region. There were less severe lacerations around the opening of her rectum in which semen and pubic hair were found. These injuries were consistent with penetration of the vagina and anus by a penis.

After the victim was taken to the emergency room, Irick left the victim’s home and was located by the police the next day hiding beneath a bridge. When apprehended, he Irick stated: “I have been hiding under the bridge all day, and several police cars have gone by and I had thought about turning myself in.” After his arrest, Irick gave a statement to the police, in which he admitted killing the victim.

Published January 22, 2018

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