Two Arkansas executions called off, but five remain planned

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The decision follows Griffen's protest Friday outside the Governor's Mansion against the scheduled executions.

Arkansas had scheduled the executions to take place before its legal injection drug midazolam expired at the end of the month.

On Monday the Arkansas Supreme Court also made two decisions relating to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin and his decisions. It capped a chaotic day of legal wrangling in state and federal courts Monday as Arkansas tried to clear obstacles to carrying out its first executions since 2005.

The state "intended to use this product in connection with executions, a fact that was never disclosed to McKesson", the company said in Tuesday's filing in state court in Little Rock. Other executions are scheduled for next Monday, April 24 and Thursday, April 27.

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.

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"Allowing (Davis') stay to stand will effectively prevent Arkansas from seeing justice done", Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bishop said the timing for these executions "was not set by the demands of justice, but by the arbitrary politics of punishment", referring to the state's supply of the sedative used in executions.

At a federal court hearing last week, prison officials testified that they have no new source for the sedative, which is meant to mask the effects of drugs that will shut down the inmates' lungs and hearts.

A judge in Little Rock has rejected a request for additional DNA testing in the murder case of Arkansas inmate Ledell Lee, who's scheduled for execution Thursday night.

About 20 minutes before the execution warrant for Davis expired, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Rutledge's request to vacate the stay. "All we can do is Continue to fight for those families of the victims who deserve justice and justice in Arkansas that was provided by a jury was capital punishment and that is the sentence", said JR Davis, Governor Hutchinson's Spokesperson.

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In her order, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker flagged two issues: the use of the midazolam and inmates' access to their attorneys on the days of their executions.

Arkansas' attorney general has also asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider the stay it granted one inmate over questions about his mental health. Many pharmaceutical companies, particularly in Europe, ban their use for executions.

The court may be even more reluctant to do so now with new Justice Neil Gorsuch on board, especially because Gorsuch could be thrust into the uncomfortable position of taking a decisive and public death penalty stand very early in his tenure.

The drugs used in lethal injections by some American states - 19 of the 50 no longer execute prisoners - have become increasingly hard to obtain.

If the rulings are overturned by Monday night, the state will be prepared to execute at least one inmate, according to local TV station KATV.

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Lawyers for the condemned also say that the accelerated executions could take a severe toll on the small team of penitentiary employees who carry out the death penalty, and who have not had to do so for 12 years.

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