Wednesday, 26 April, 2017

Arkansas executions halted, others back on

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Alfredo Watts | 19 April, 2017, 00:59

(AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel).

Gifften's ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by pharmaceutical manufacturer, McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc., which provided the Arkansas Department of Correction with one of the drugs.

An Arkansas inmate set to die by lethal injection Monday remains alive after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against lifting a stay of execution.

Two hours before the appeals court ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court stopped the executions of two men scheduled to be put to death Monday evening.

Davis' death warrant expires at midnight.

The stay also applied to the other inmate set to die, Bruce Ward, who had already received an Arkansas Supreme Court stay on Friday.

The state high court previously granted a stay of execution for Ward on a claim that he lacks the competency to face execution.

The move comes as Griffen prohibited the state from using a lethal injection drug a supplier said was misleadingly obtained.

Fresenius Kabi USA, a subsidiary of the German company Fresenius Kabi, said last week that it appeared to have manufactured the potassium chloride the state plans to use.

The state's supreme court added more fuel to the fire on Monday when it ordered a circuit judge in Pulaski County to be barred from hearing any further death penalty cases.

Oral arguments for that case aren't expected until April 24 and will discuss inmates' rights for an independent expert to assess their health.

Two of the executions had been stayed individually before all eight of them were blocked by a state judge and a federal judge. "The families are entitled to closure and finality of the law".

In a statement, Scott Braden, the attorney for both Davis and Ward, said his clients were "denied access to independent mental health experts, even though they clearly demonstrated that mental health issues would be significant factors at their trials".

"The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to vacate the Arkansas Supreme Court decision in reference to Don Davis".

Davis was sentenced to death for the 1990 death of Jane Daniel in Rogers. The woman was killed in her home after Davis broke in and shot her with a.44-calibre revolver he found there. Federal Judge Kristine Baker followed up on April 15 with a preliminary stay of executions. Ward's attorneys have argued he is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

The judge in question, Wendell Griffen, has since been removed from all cases involving the death penalty, under an order from the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

Despite the setbacks, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Arkansas would press ahead with other planned executions, including two set for Thursday - Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson.

Her office filed a request at the US Supreme Court asking the court to vacate the stay of execution the Arkansas Supreme Court granted to Davis - which Davis' lawyers quickly opposed.

According to ADC, Davis was not moved into the execution chamber.

In a 4-3 decision, Arkansas' highest court stayed the executions of Ward and Davis, each of whom has spent more than 20 years on death row. First, midazolam, a sedative, would be given to render an inmate unconscious.

"After the darkness of Good Friday has come a great light", Karen Clifton, executive director of the Catholic Mobilizing Network against the Death Penalty, said in an April 16 statement. Griffen, who served 12 years on the state appeals court, previously battled with the judicial discipline panel over remarks he made criticizing President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

DeMillo reported from Little Rock.