Arkansas Fails in Attempt to Execute 2 Black Men in 1 Day
Apr 21 2017 by Francis Osborne
Johnson claims that advanced DNA techniques could show that he didn't kill Carol Heath, a 25-year-old mother of two, in 1993 at her southwest Arkansas apartment.
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied five last-minute stays of execution requested by Lee, 51, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told CNN.
The legal issue that halted Monday's executions for Ward and Davis hinged on a separate, broader case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a defendant's access to independent experts, and attorneys say the justices' ruling could potentially affect the inmates' criminal convictions.
It's unclear whether the new execution obstacles would have any political fallout for the court. Outside groups and the candidates spent more than $1.6 million previous year on a pair of high court races that were among the most fiercely fought judicial campaigns in the state's history. In that order, the state Supreme Court did not elaborate on its reasoning.
McKesson said it would not have sold the drug to the Arkansas prison system had it known it would be used in executions. While Davis had spent the past quarter century on death row, lawyers filed multiple emergency appeals at the 11th hour to try to spare his life.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled eight executions to occur before the end of April, when one hard-to-acquire lethal injection drug expires.
Arkansas officials have said they are unable to obtain the necessary drug from any other source, and have acknowledged in court papers that should McKesson prevail, all pending executions would be effectively blocked.
Gray's ruling mirrors one last week from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who also blocked Arkansas from using the vecuronium bromide.
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"ADC (the Arkansas Department of Correction) personnel used an existing medical license, which is to be used only to order products with legitimate medical uses, and an irregular ordering process to obtain the vecuronium via phone order with a McKesson salesperson", the brief said.
After a hiatus of almost 12 years, Lee's execution was carried out without any apparent glitches. "They both want the use of new DNA technology, new DNA testing, that they haven't gotten since they were first convicted in the early '90s", Kauffman reported.
Ledell Lee appears in Pulaski County Circuit Court Tuesday, April 18, 2017, for a hearing in which lawyers argued to stop his execution which is scheduled for Thursday.
Just before Lee was put to death, prison officials at the Cummins Unit asked him twice for his final words, but he did not respond. The remaining six could still theoretically be put to death this month, though two of those inmates have received stays that the state hasn't yet appealed.
Her two young children were at home at the time.
The judge facing re-election, Courtney Goodson, lost her bid for chief justice previous year after conservative groups blanketed the state with ads attacking her. The judge ruled on a lawsuit by USA pharmaceutical wholesaler McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc which accused the state of obtaining the muscle relaxant vecuronium bromide under false pretences. In text messages from Jenkins' phone, which came up at Wednesday's court hearing, there is no mention that the drug would be used in executions.
But while Goodson voted to stay the three executions, so did the conservative-backed candidate who beat her in the chief justice race, Dan Kemp.