Executing multiple inmates the same day was common, now rare


Ward is one of seven inmates scheduled to be executed starting on Monday (April 17).

According to ArkansasMatters.com, Depp stood with Damien Echols, a former death row inmate (one of the so-called "West Memphis Three", convicted of the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys) who was set free after 18 years on death row, thanks to the efforts of Depp and other advocates who lobbied for his release based on evidence that the three were innocent. Attorneys asked for the stay after a Jefferson County judge said she didn't have the authority to halt Ward's execution. "Attorney General Rutledge intends to file an emergency request with the Arkansas Supreme Court to vacate the order as soon as possible".

The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's Friday rally comes as a federal judge weighs whether to grant the inmates' requests to block their upcoming executions.

Adding to the drama, a medical supplier said one of the three drugs the state plans to use to put the prisoners to death wasn't sold to be used for lethal injections.

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Arkansas uses potassium chloride in combination with vecuronium bromide and midazolam. The company accused the Department of Correction of misleadingly using its medical director's license, which was to be used only to order products for "legitimate medical uses", to buy the drug. McKesson supplies the drug - which is produced by Hospira and its parent company, Pfizer - to pharmacies, hospitals and other organizations.

The Arkansas high court did not elaborate on its decision in its one-page ruling.

In a letter seen by The New York Times, a lawyer for drug company McKesson said the state "never disclosed its intended objective to us for these products". The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which prohibits the use of its drugs in executions, said Thursay that McKesson, a distributor, had sold one of its products to the Arkansas Department of Corrections "in direct violation of our policy". "He deserves a day in court for that, but in Arkansas the rules do not permit that". And earlier this month a federal district judge put on hold the execution of Jason McGehee after the parole board recommended clemency.

McKesson, a medical supply company, has said the prison system bought the drug believing it would be used for medical purposes.

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Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed a friend of the court brief objecting to their drugs' use in the executions.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, however, is in a hurry because the state's supply of midazolam expires at the end of April and the chances of getting a substitute are slim. On March 27, the men filed a complaint in federal court arguing that it would amount to cruel and unusual punishment and violate the inmates' rights to counsel and access to the courts should the executions proceed.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Thursday, saying their drugs weren't meant to be used in lethal injections. That plan, if carried out, would have marked the most inmates executed by a state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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