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Arkansas suffers 2 setbacks to multiple execution plan

20 April, 2017, 13:39 | Author: Mae Harvey
  • Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson speaks to members of the press

Moments earlier, the Arkansas Supreme Court had granted a stay of execution to inmate Stacey Johnson, who had been set to die Thursday.

The court ruled that Stacey Johnson could pursue his requests for enhanced DNA testing in hopes of proving his innocence in the 1993 rape and killing of Carol Heath.

By the time an execution takes place or is stopped, often after the inmate has been fed his intended final meal, four or more different courts are supposed to have examined the trial record, legal issues, newly discovered evidence, assertions of innocence and claims of constitutional violations.

On Monday, Don Davis won a reprieve from the state's top court a few hours before his scheduled execution, then waited nearly until midnight to learn the Supreme Court would not allow the execution to proceed.

The executions set for Thursday would have been the first in Arkansas in a dozen years, and the eight together would have been the most for any state in as a short a period since the USA death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Jenkins, who has worked in sales for McKesson for about 24 years, said in court he was driving sometime last summer when he got a call from Rory Griffin, the deputy director of health programs for the Department of Correction. A court official informally known as the death clerk keeps everyone up to date and communicates often with lawyers for inmates and the states as the date of execution nears. The company sued to stop Arkansas from using the drug in the planned lethal injections, and a hearing over that issue was underway in Little Rock on Wednesday afternoon.

The filing from Rutledge contends McKesson's complaint fails to "state facts upon which relief can be granted" and notes that it "amounts to a stay of executions" because a court order barring the drug's use would prevent the lethal injections from proceeding. 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. The state can ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider its decision or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Monday opted not to vacate a separate stay involving inmate Davis.

"I have ultimate respect for the court and I'm not going to question individual decisions but I would say there is frustration among the Legislature as to the court's continued refusal to allow an execution to go through", said Sen.

McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc. on Tuesday filed a complaint in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking a temporary restraining order or injunction "to prevent the use of our product for something other than a legitimate medical goal", it said in a statement.

Rosenzweig also represents two other inmates scheduled to die this month - Jack Jones and Kenneth Williams.

That leaves five men set for execution in an eight-day period starting Thursday.

Johnson was convicted of murder in 1997, and had been scheduled to be executed Thursday. Less often, it's the state that seeks permission to proceed after a lower court has blocked an execution.

The medical supplier McKesson Corp. refiled its lawsuit Tuesday before a judge in Pulaski County.

It's unclear whether the new execution obstacles would have any political fallout for the court.

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