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

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Arkansas' Request To Carry Out Execution


A federal judge later denied a reprieve for Johnson, who asserted his obesity and other medical conditions posed the likelihood that death by lethal injection would subject him to unconstitutional pain and suffering.

An Arkansas inmate set to die by lethal injection Monday remains alive after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against lifting a stay of execution.

Arkansas was set to begin an 11-day execution spree of seven prisoners on Monday, but state and federal rulings created roadblocks that put the state's aggressive plan in jeopardy.

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

Arkansas appealed the stay in Davis' case to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday evening, hoping to still go through with the execution that night.

Bruce Ward and Davis had been granted stays by the Supreme Court earlier in the day, just ahead of their scheduled executions on Monday.

Arkansas has since run into multiple obstacles in carrying out the executions.

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The sedative used by Arkansas in the lethal injection process expire at the end of the month and state officials say they have no replacement. Theyhad requested a delay Wednesday, citing the need to wait for the conclusion of a U.S. Supreme Court case, McWilliams v. Dunn. The state appealed Davis' stay, but did not appeal Ward's. The state was rushing to win approval to execute Davis before his death warrant expired at midnight.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a petition to the Supreme Court, which stated that allowing Davis' stay to stand would prevent the state from ensuring justice was served. "While this has been an exhausting day for all involved, tomorrow we will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims' families".

Lawyers for the two men have asked Arkansas courts to halt the executions for DNA testing they say could prove their clients' innocence and to consider judicial shortcomings, including a previous trial lawyer for Lee who came to court drunk, was removed from the hearing and ordered to undergo a drug test.

After the US Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court delivered the stays, Arkansas authorities vowed to push on with their state's first executions since 2005.

Davis was sentenced to death in 1992 for the killing of Jane Daniel in her Rogers, Arkansas home. The Supreme Court also considered a separate matter which concerned access to mental health experts for both defendants.

"The schedule of executions was not set by the demands of justice, but by the arbitrary politics of punishment", he said. Mr. Ward has severe and life-long schizophrenia, breaks with reality, and delusions, such as seeing demon dogs at the foot of his bed since childhood.

Lee also wants his federal case reopened, with his attorneys arguing that Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage and intellectual disability.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that judge, stating in its opinion that there's only "equivocal evidence" that midazolam will raise the risk of a painful execution.

The legal roadblock constitutes yet another setback for Arkansas's Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who had pushed for the accelerated executions as the expiration of the state's supply of midazolam drew near.

At a federal court hearing last week, prison officials testified they must conduct the executions with their current batch of midazolam, a sedative that is meant to mask the effects of drugs that will shut down the inmates' lungs and hearts.

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