Arkansas governor disappointed by court ruling

21 April, 2017, 18:17 | Author: Benny Bass
  • Anti-death penalty supporters Abraham Bonowitz left and Randy Gardner wait near their taped off

Arkansas prepared to execute two inmates on Thursday despite court rulings that have stymied the USA state's plan to conduct multiple lethal injections before one of the drugs it uses expires at the end of April.

There are many. The two set for execution Thursday, Lee and Johnson, both want more DNA testing in hopes of proving their innocence, though a Pulaski County judge on Tuesday rejected Lee's request for the enhanced tests.

One legal hurdle the state had to overcome in its plan to execute Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee was a court order preventing it from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs in Arkansas' lethal injection protocol.

Two separate court rulings on Wednesday night temporarily blocked a series of executions scheduled to take place over an 11-day period in the USA state of Arkansas.

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

It takes five votes to get most things done at the court, including imposing or lifting a stay of execution. 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.

"Apparently the reason the state made a decision to proceed with these eight executions is that the "use by" date of the state's execution drug is about to expire". The Innocence Project filed the appeal along with Johnson's attorney.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled eight executions to occur before the end of April, when one hard-to-acquire lethal injection drug expires.

The second ruling, by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray, has wider impact because it affects all seven inmates.

Arkansas governor disappointed by court ruling
Arkansas governor disappointed by court ruling

Justices also denied an attempt by makers of midazolam and potassium chloride - the two other drugs in Arkansas' execution plan - to intervene in McKesson's fight over the vecuronium bromide.

Arkansas officials are vowing to press ahead with the Thursday executions despite the setback to plans to resume capital punishment after a 12-year hiatus.

But unlike the earlier decisions, this stay came from a court that had shifted to the right in recent elections.

The other inmate set for execution on Thursday is Ledell Lee, who is also seeking a stay in a separate case.

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.

The judge filed her order Thursday after the state complained to the Arkansas Supreme Court that she was taking too much time.

Arkansas originally scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period.

Jason McGehee, who was to be put to death on April 27, received a month-long stay two weeks ago because of a parole board's clemency recommendation.

McKesson Medical Surgical Inc. argued its vecuronium bromide was intended only for medical purposes, not executions, and that the Arkansas Department of Corrections "misled" the company when it purchased the drug, according to a court brief. In text messages from Jenkins' phone, there is no mention that the drug would be used in executions. But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that order Monday, and the inmates appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Four of the eight have been granted stays of execution.

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