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20 April 2017, 02:13 | Laverne Osborne
Arkansas execution plan again thrown into doubt
The Arkansas circuit judge temporarily blocked the state from using one of its drugs, vecuronium bromide, a paralytic used in prisons for lethal injections (and for other purposes elsewhere).This ruling came after McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, filed a complaint alleging that the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) "intentionally sought to circumvent McKesson's policies by claiming that the drug would only be used for medical reasons in a health facility".
During its reporting on the state of Arkansas' unprecedented plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days, Fox News repeatedly omitted important details about the legal challenges to the plan, downplayed the extent of criticism to the plan, and misled its viewers on the reasons the executions have not yet been carried out.
The executions of Davis and Bruce Ward were supposed to be the first two, but Ward received a stay from the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday and the state did not appeal the decision.
Moments earlier, the Arkansas Supreme Court had granted a stay of execution to inmate Stacey Johnson, who had been set to die Thursday.
Arkansas meant to execute Stacey E. Johnson and Ledell Lee at a prison southeast of Little Rock on Thursday night.
According to KARK, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is weighing her legal options in responding to the court's decision to stay Johnson's execution.
McKesson convinced a judge to place a temporary restraining order on the drug, but the company had its case dismissed after Baker blocked the executions. Johnson says 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.
McKesson Corp says it sold the drug vecuronium bromide to the Arkansas department of correction for inmate medical care, not executions.
A pair of death-row inmates scheduled for lethal injection Thursday evening have been transferred to the Cummins Unit, the location of the state's execution chamber, a prisons spokesman said Wednesday.
"Today, our court gives uncertainty to any case ever truly being final in the Arkansas Supreme Court", Justice Rhonda Wood wrote in a dissenting opinion.
Pending before the US Supreme Court is an appeal by all eight inmates, who contend the compressed execution schedule increased the likelihood of a botched execution and that one of the three drugs, midazolam, has been proven ineffective in rendering unconsciousness prior to administration of the two lethal agents. The court noted that the inmates "have a long history of filing and dismissing claims to manipulate the judicial process and prevent Arkansas from carrying out their executions".
Thursday's double execution is scheduled to start around 7 p.m., barring intervention through any of several ongoing lawsuits.
"ADC meant to use this product in connection with executions, a fact that was never disclosed to McKesson", the company said in the filing at a state court in Little Rock, the state capital.
Ledell Lee appears in Pulaski County circuit court Tuesday, 18 April.
Arkansas plans to execute Lee and another inmate, Stacey Johnson, on Thursday night.
The execution of a third inmate, Jason McGehee, had been set for April 27, but a federal judge put it on hold earlier this month, saying McGehee was entitled to a 30-day comment period after the Arkansas Parole Board told the governor that the inmate's clemency request had merit. It takes five votes to get most things done at the court, including imposing or lifting a stay of execution.
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