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US Supreme Court blocks execution
21 April 2017, 06:18 | Laverne Osborne
Arkansas Department of Correction via AP File Don Davis
Lawyers for Ward and Davis argued that delays in their executions were needed due to a separate upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case - McWilliams v. Dunn - concerning inmates' access to independent mental health experts.
That decision "stirred a wave of consternation and threats on social media from state lawmakers and conservatives", member station KUAR noted on Saturday - because shortly before the decision, the judge was photographed protesting the death penalty at the gates of the Governor's Mansion.
Those moves came after the state had faced a series of legal setbacks in its plan to rush through the executions, an accelerated schedule it said was necessary because its supply of one of the drugs used, midazolam, was about to expire.
Late Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court also overturned a temporary restraining order, issued by a state judge, that prevented Arkansas from using vecuronium bromide it had purchased from McKesson Medical-Surgical in executions.
By the time the court reached a decision Monday night, Davis had already received his last meal and the execution team was ready.
Rutledge said the court's decision is "heartbreaking that the family of Jane Daniel has once again seen justice delayed", referring to the victim in Davis' case.
The European Union on Wednesday urged Hutchinson to commute the death-row inmates' sentences.
Davis, along with Bruce Ward, was scheduled to be killed by lethal injection.
But Arkansas' attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, has pledged to overcome the stays and haul Ward and Davis back into the death chamber.
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.
Griffin had on April 14 ruled that the state's supply of vecuronium bromide, an anesthetic which induces paralysis and which is the second of the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol, could not be used in the process.
The justices also took direct action against Judge Griffen by barring him from hearing any death penalty, execution or drug protocal cases.
Attorneys for the eight were likely to appeal the federal appeals court ruling to the US Supreme Court.
Until word of the decision from Washington reached the prison here in rural southeast Arkansas, state officials were optimistic that the justices would allow them to proceed with Davis' execution.
In another case, Baker cancelled an April 18 hearing in which the lawyers for Marcel Williams, who is scheduled to be executed April 24, meant to argue that because of his obesity, Arkansas' lethal injection protocol is not likely to kill him and could cause organ damage. His execution would have been Arkansas' first in more than a decade.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections had, nevertheless, prepared for Davis' execution Monday night while lawyers for the state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the death sentences to be carried out.
A lethal injection room at an unidentified prison.
Braden said Ward is schizophrenic and Davis has organic brain damage and is intellectually disabled. If court proceedings are pushed into May, it will not be able to carry out the executions with the drugs it has on hand.
The use of midazolam is controversial with opponents of the death penalty saying not effective at rendering the inmate unconscious. Federal Judge Kristine Baker followed up on April 15 with a preliminary stay of executions.
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