Arkansas executed two men on the same gurney last night

Ellen Mills
May 3, 2017

Arkansas carried out a double execution Monday night, marking the first time in almost 17 years that any state has killed two people on the same day.

The back-to-back executions would be the first time in 17 years that a U.S. state put two inmates to death on the same day.

Attorneys for Williams were granted a temporary stay by Judge Kristine Baker after they argued Jones' execution had complications.

After Arkansas conducted the first back-to-back executions in the United States since 2000, witnesses described what they saw when Jack Harold Jones Jr. and Marcel Wayne Williams died of lethal injection.

Both Jones and Williams had argued that their obesity put them at heightened risk of pain due to the controversial midazolam, which was previously used in botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had initially scheduled four double executions over an 11-day span in April, but a slew procedural hurdles forced the state to change course. A court official informally known as the death clerk keeps everyone up to date and communicates often with lawyers for inmates and the states as the date of execution nears. A court stay temporarily halted his execution Monday night.

The men were both part of a group of eight inmates the state planned to execute during a ten-day period before its supply of midazolam expires at the end of the month.

When those appeals reach the Supreme Court, they go first to the justice who oversees the state in which the execution is scheduled.

The two death row inmates were executed with the questionable drug cocktail within three hours of one another in the Cummins Unit prison, 75 miles from the state capitol. The inmate's attorneys had argued that Jones had shown signs of suffering after the lethal drugs were injected.

In a statement issued late Monday, James Clark, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA, said: "Tonight Arkansas continues its shameful backslide against prevailing trends away from the death penalty".

Three lawmen who helped to convict Jones can still recall the vivid details two decades after the 1995 rape and murder of 34-year-old Mary Phillips and brutal assault of her daughter Lacy. "The jury sentenced Jack Jones to death, and his sentence was upheld by judges and reviewed thoroughly in courts of appeal at each level", Hutchinson said.

KAUFFMAN: Before this month, Arkansas hadn't put an inmate to death in almost 12 years.

The office of the Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge denied the attorney's claims and called the request for a stay "baseless". "There was no constitutional violation in Jones' execution".

For his last meal, Jones had fried chicken, potato logs, beef jerky bites, Butterfinger bars and a chocolate milkshake. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, Graves said.

Numerous legal clashes over Arkansas' plan focus on use of the drug midazolam, a sedative meant to render a condemned person unconscious before other drugs induce death.

The first execution was carried out on April 20.

"That's what I had been told", he continued. The reporter also said Jones apologized before he died to the daughter of the woman he killed.

Marcel Williams was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections administered lethal injections to the inmates. The state had initially planned to execute eight people within 11 days this month-an unprecedented rate of executions in modern US history. Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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