Monday, 19 February, 2018

Supreme Court blocks Arkansas execution in victory for death penalty opponents

Alfredo Watts | 19 April, 2017, 00:52

Attorneys for Davis had filed an appeal in the 8th Circuit seeking a stay of execution, arguing he had ineffective counsel before he was sentenced to death. Ward, in the meantime, has one other stay granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and it now remains.

"I would encourage you to remember the victims throughout this process and their families who have had to go through this nightmare", he added.

Bishop Dewane joins the Catholic community of Arkansas, and people of good will across the country and around the world, in urging Governor Hutchinson to reconsider this plan.

One of eight Arkansas inmates facing possible execution this month had a last meal Monday evening as his fate was being decided by federal and state courts.

"Both Mr. Ward and Mr. Davis were denied independent mental health experts to help their defense attorneys investigate, understand and present these critical mental health issues to the jury", Scott Braden, an attorney representing both men said in a statement.

The state's attorney general's office said it would not appeal against the stay for Ward but it would appeal in the case of Davis, so he could yet be put to death on Monday.

In a dizzying legal drama over the controversial executions, a federal appeals court later on Monday gave its approval of the state's plans. As such, the district court put all eight scheduled executions on hold.

But the state high court's ruling halting the executions remains in effect. The inmates wanted stays of execution while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants.

The Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission confirmed Monday an investigation of Griffen is pending following the state Supreme Court referral. But the state has vowed to press ahead with plans to execute several inmates before the end of April, when its supply of a key lethal injection expires. It is the state's only supply and state officials have been able to locate another source.

It's unclear whether the state may face additional challenges over its execution drugs.

Within the hour before the deadline the state had placed the witnesses and selected the media witnesses.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has thrown out a temporary restraining order that ordered the return of one of the execution drugs. They claimed the sedative drug doesn't always work and causes those who are being executed to feel pain from the use of the other two lethal injection drugs. The suit argued there was an unacceptably high risk they would suffer during the executions.

A separate federal court ruling has halted all of the executions.

Hutchinson and state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge have been pushing to carry out the executions anyway.

If the state sanctioned killing takes place, it is expected to be one of eleven originally planned for this month.

Appeals are likely far from over and the Supreme Court could potentially postpone other inmate's death row deadlines.

The court's decision was the second time Don Davis had been granted a reprieve shortly before execution - he was within hours of death in 2010.

The state is determined these executions be carried out, but those who have campaigned against the methods of execution will do all they can to block them.

Davis was convicted of murdering 62-year-old Jane Daniel in her home in Rogers in 1990.

Davis' leftover cake was made available to reporters. Davis had even been supplied his last meal.

After the rulings temporarily halting the executions were issued, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, thanked all of those who had "prayed and worked so hard to prevent these scheduled executions from taking place".