NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/ AP) -- Tennessee's oldest death row inmate is dead after 30 years on the row, but his life didn't end in the electric chair or by lethal injection. Richard Austin, 68, apparently died of natural causes, the Tennessee Department of Corrections says.
Austin was found dead in his DeBarry Special Needs Facility cell in Nashville Saturday.
He was convicted of being an accessory before the fact to murder in Shelby County in 1978, according to A TDOC release.
Austin was found to have hired a fugitive from prison to kill undercover policeman Julian Watkins. Watkins was investigating illegal gambling operations at the Golden Cue, a Memphis establishment that Austin owned.
Austin was the first person sentenced to die under Tennessee's current death penalty law, which was enacted in 1977, and he was the longest-serving death row inmate in Tennessee.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
To comment, the following rules must be followed:
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.
Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide detailed information.