Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Arkansas suffers 2 setbacks to multiple execution plan


Arkansas suffered two more legal setbacks Wednesday in its bid to carry out multiple executions this month when the state Supreme Court spared one prisoner and a judge later ruled that the state can't use one of its drugs in any of its executions. In addition, a group of Arkansas death-row inmates has filed another emergency stay request with the U.S. supreme court, this time challenging the state's plan for a flurry of executions before the end of April, when Arkansas' supply of an execution drug expires.

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 court voted Wednesday to halt the execution of an inmate facing lethal injection Thursday night, two days after justices stayed the executions of two other inmates.

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

Gray's ruling mirrors one last week from Pulaski County circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who also blocked Arkansas from using the vecuronium bromide.

Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state will appeal Gray's ruling.

In its 4-3 ruling, the state's highest court followed the same split it did on Monday, when it halted two other executions involving different inmates.

"We've established that modern DNA testing methods can prove Mr. Johnson's innocence, and Arkansas law clearly established that Mr. Johnson is entitled to that testing", said Karen Thompson, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, on Tuesday after the appeal was filed.

"In doing so, ADC led McKesson to believe that the order was placed at the request of or for the benefit of the licensed physician and would be used for a legitimate medical goal", McKesson said in the court document. The drug, which paralyzes the prisoner, is the second step in the state's three-drug cocktail for the procedure. He said he didn't keep records of the texts, but a McKesson representative did. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Arkansas' request to lift one of the stays. A McKesson salesman presented the texts at the court hearing, which showed no mention or indication that the drug would be used for lethal injections. There are no current stays blocking those executions, but both inmates have pending court challenges.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled eight executions to occur before the end of April, when one hard-to-acquire lethal injection drug expires. Johnson's lawyers say that the child's testimony has been proven unreliable by experts and that his execution should be put on hold to allow for new DNA testing, the kind of which was unavailable in 1993 when Johnson was on trial. "They were told the drug would only be used in prison health clinics for its proper medicinal use, as opposed to putting prisoners to death". Johnson's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, wants a court to order new DNA testing on hair found in the victim's apartment and on clothing that prosecutors found at a rest stop and linked to Johnson.

Be proactive - Use the "Flag as Inappropriate" link at the upper right corner of each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Like this: