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.
On Wednesday, inmates asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case challenging the use of a sedative used in flawed executions in other states and one of three drugs Arkansas plans to use in its executions. The companies, pressuring Arkansas to return the medications to be used in the lethal injections, recognize the public-relations implications of using their drugs on death row. Arkansas officials are trying to carry out the executions before their supply of midazolam, one of the execution drugs used, expires at the end of April.
A blizzard of legal challenges resulted in three of the executions being halted and raised broader questions about the lethal injection drug mixes and death chamber protocols in US executions, which hit a quarter-century low in 2016. He said on Wednesday he was "both surprised and disappointed" by the delays.
According to the Associated Press, Supreme Court Justices rarely upend a lower court order in death penalty cases.
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Inmates Bruce Ward (top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided.
"I know the families of the victims are anxious for a clear-cut explanation from the majority as to how they came to this conclusion and how there appears to be no end to the court's review", Hutchinson said in a statement after the Wednesday ruling.
Their strategy to win stays of execution is in marked contrast to the first two inmates who faced the death chamber in Arkansas and were spared Monday by arguing they should not be put to death because of mental health issues.
In the drug case, a state prison official testified that he deliberately ordered the drug past year in a way that there wouldn't be a paper trail, relying on phone calls and text messages.
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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. The Innocence Project filed the appeal along with Johnson's attorney. Arkansas Department of Correction Deputy Director Rory Griffin said he didn't keep records of the texts, but McKesson salesman Tim Jenkins did. Thus for Fox to imply that the planned executions are opposed merely by "critics" is a gross understatement of the legal challenges ADC is facing.
The state of Arkansas is asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to block a series of executions scheduled this month beginning Thursday. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, vacated that stay two days later. McGuire's execution lasted 25 minutes, the longest in Ohio's history, and witnesses said he "gasped several times throughout" before dying.
"I have ultimate respect for the court and I'm not going to question individual decisions but I would say there is frustration among the Legislature as to the court's continued refusal to allow an execution to go through", said Sen.
Lawyers for Arkansas inmates condemned to die Thursday in a planned double execution are claiming they are innocent and one of them says advanced DNA techniques could show he didn't kill a woman in 1993. The state originally wanted to put to death eight men in 11 days but that is down to five after the two won stays Monday and a third was earlier put on hold by a federal judge.
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