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Tennessee cop killer's execution back on - for now

Story Highlights

• Judge: Execution protocol could result in cruel and unusual punishment
• Philip Workman scheduled for execution early Wednesday
• Workman fears possible pain from lethal injection drugs
By Ashley Fantz
(CNN)
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(CNN) -- Lawyers for convicted cop killer Philip Workman and Tennessee prosecutors were locked in a federal court battle Monday over Workman's execution, scheduled for early Wednesday.

But as of 5:15 p.m. ET, Workman's execution was to proceed.

State prosecutors appealed and won a reversal of a federal judge's ruling Friday that temporarily meant the execution would be stayed.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell ruled Tennessee's revised execution protocol could result in cruel and unusual punishment, said Workman's lawyer, Kelley Henry.

But the state's victorious appeal Wednesday means Workman is headed to "Death Watch" sometime today, said Riverbend Prison spokeswoman Dorinda Carter.

Death Watch is a period before an execution in which a prisoner is cordoned off in an isolated cell, given his final meal and instructed to leave his possessions to his family or friends.

Wednesday's execution date is Workman's seventh. Workman has gone through the Death Watch process three times since 2000. Each time, courts stepped in to spare his life.

'Deficiencies' in lethal injection procedures

Saying there were "deficiencies" in Tennessee's lethal injection instruction manual, Gov. Phil Bredesen rescinded it in February and gave the state's commissioner of correction 90 days to write a new one.

On April 30, the state issued a new set of lethal injection procedures, but the "cocktail" of lethal drugs remained unchanged.

A study published in April by the Public Library of Science -- a nonprofit organization of scientists and doctors -- found the three-drug lethal injection protocol probably left prisoners subject to immense pain before they died. (Read about the controversy over lethal injection)

Workman, 53, is on death row at Nashville's Riverbend prison after being convicted in the 1981 shooting death of Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver during the robbery of a Wendy's restaurant. (Read about Workman's case)

Workman, in an interview with CNN last month, said he feared what lethal injection might do.

"It almost makes me want to choose the electric chair," Workman said. "They are saying in this report that a lot [of prisoners] have suffered, they wouldn't be able to speak. You can't move to say anything. You're frozen."

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Convicted cop killer Philip Workman said he feared what lethal injection might do. "It almost makes me want to choose the electric chair."

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