Arkansas vows to keep pushing for executions despite setback

Frederick Owens
April 20, 2017

Meanwhile, Ledell Lee argued unsuccessfully Tuesday in a Little Rock courtroom that he be given a chance to test blood and hair evidence that could prove he didn't beat 26-year-old Debra Reese to death during a 1993 robbery in Jacksonville.

(Sherry Simon via AP). On Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court reassigned the cases overseen by Judge Griffen after he took part in anti-death penalty demonstrations that same week. A spokesman for the attorney general said Monday the request had been denied but later retracted the comment and said the request was pending, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. "We are under the impression, and under the assumption, that those executions will be carried out as scheduled".

(AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel). The case has been assigned to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray. Wright wrote that he won't substitute his own judgment "for that of the jurors two decades removed". Both inmates wanted stays of execution. If the state had moved ahead with its 11-day execution plan, it would have been the most inmates put to death by any state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Davis and fellow inmate Bruce Ward, both of whom have spent more than 20 years on death row, were scheduled to die on Monday night before the Arkansas Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, stayed the executions after their lawyers raised questions about their mental competency. The U.S. Supreme Court then opted not to lift the stay for Davis. Johnson's attorneys appealed immediately.

The state would use a three-drug lethal injection protocol. The original plan was to double the executions over four nights, prior to the state's supply of lethal injection drugs expired. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold for medical purposes, not executions.

The company said that ADC placed the order for the drug over the phone and never disclosed that the drug was to be used for executions.

While the last-minute appeals raised technical issues involving the defendants' legal rights and courts' jurisdiction, the state's effort to execute its first prisoners since 2005 focused largely on the drugs to be used.

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The remaining inmates scheduled to be executed before the end of the month are also expected to appeal the 8th circuit's decision to the highest court.

They are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday. "But other 5 scheduled this week could still happen", the Catholic Mobilizing Network, which works to end capital punishment, tweeted April 18.

The lawyers for those two prisoners said their clients suffered serious psychological problems but that their defense attorneys had presented no mental health experts during their trials that results in the death penalty. He is also serving prison time for the rapes of a woman and teen from Jacksonville. "Mr. Davis has organic brain damage, intellectual disability, a history of head injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other severe mental health conditions". Earlier Tuesday, the judge ordered that Lee receive a psychological evaluation Wednesday.

But that is not the only legal obstacle the state faces.

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday stayed two executions slated for that evening, but the state's Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed an application with the US Supreme Court to obtain permission to proceed with the execution of one of them.

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

A medical supplier is again seeking to prevent Arkansas from using its drugs in executions.

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