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Arkansas execution plan again thrown into doubt

Arkansas execution plan again thrown into doubt

Anti-death penalty supporter Randy Gardner, left, wipes away a tear moments after Abraham Bonowitz, left, read on his phone the 11:45pm Supreme Court decision to halt the execution.

Inmates can spend years, or even decades, appealing their convictions and death sentences in state and federal courts.

The medical supply company says it sold vecuronium bromide to be used for inmate care. This time it's the result of a drug supplier suing to block usage of its product in the state's lethal injections.

In a separate ruling, the Arkansas Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to grant a stay of execution for Stacey Johnson, an inmate who had been scheduled for execution on Thursday.

The executions set for Thursday would have been the first in Arkansas in a dozen years, and the eight together would have been the most for any state in as a short a period since the US death penalty was reinstated in 1976. The legal setbacks at one point prompted the state's previous attorney general, Dustin McDaniel, to declare Arkansas' death penalty system "broken".

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.

Photos and video of Friday's demonstration showed Griffen wearing an anti-death penalty button and surrounded by people holding signs urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson to halt a plan that originally called for executing eight inmates by the end of the month. Another ruling Wednesday could scuttle the entire schedule. Prisons director Wendy Kelley has said the state has no way to obtain more midazolam or vecuronium bromide.

According to court documents, the ADC acquired the drug under false pretense, telling McKesson that it would strictly be used for medical purposes. "It's a very big deal at McKesson to have our drugs associated with that".

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed responses with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit regarding inmates Lee and Johnson's requests to stay their respective executions.

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Arkansas suffered two more legal setbacks Wednesday in its unprecedented plan to carry out multiple executions this month when the state supreme court halted one and a judge later ruled that the state can not use one of its drugs in any executions.

Johnson, 47, was one of two inmates to be put to death Thursday in what the state hoped would be its first execution since 2005.

"When I set the dates, I knew there could be delays in one or more of the cases, but I expected the courts to allow the juries' sentences to be carried out since each case had been reviewed multiple times by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed the guilt of each", he said.

It was unclear whether Rutledge would appeal the stay of execution for Johnson to the U.S. Supreme Court after the state lost an appeal to the high court on a case involving another inmate Monday night.

"In preparation for their scheduled executions, Johnson and Lee were moved Tuesday to the Cummins Unit, the location of the state's execution chamber, a prisons spokesman said Wednesday".

In the vecuronium bromide 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.

Jenkins testified that Griffin never told him what the drug would be used for and that his personal beliefs would have prevented him from selling a drug he knew was going to be used for executions.

Arkansas has been trying to execute eight men before its supply of another drug, midazolam, expires.


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