Arkansas Executes An Inmate For First Time In Almost A Decade

Cheryl Sanders
April 21, 2017

The Supreme Court decision cleared the way for Lee's execution, and he was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. CDT (0456 GMT Friday) at the state's death chamber in its Cummins Unit prison, a Department of Corrections spokesman said. It was unclear which issue the court was debating.

Lee died of lethal injection.

At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court almost halted Lee's execution, but decided, 5 to 4, to allow the state to proceed with its plan. Three executions were cancelled because of court decisions, and court rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

The state originally set four double executions over an 11-day period in April. Hutchinson said that it was not his preference, but that it is necessary because one of the state's lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month.

Arkansas Executes An Inmate For First Time In Almost A Decade

One such example was that Lee's state-appointed lawyer was "so impaired by alcohol" during the first post-conviction trial that he was heard saying "blah, blah, blah" during the case and unwittingly repeated numerous items of evidence. Wave after wave of legal challenges followed.

At the last minute, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, put Lee's execution on hold for 75 minutes. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay. (Potassium chloride is the third drug in the state's protocol.) The company claims the state purchased the vecuronium bromide under false pretenses.

Arkansas says one of two executions scheduled for Thursday night won't go ahead.

With that ruling from the Supreme Court in place, Arkansas was prepared to proceed with Lee's execution. The supplier McKesson Corp. has said it sold Arkansas the drug for use in inmate health care, not executions. Arkansas Department of Correction Deputy Director Rory Griffin said he didn't keep records of the texts, but McKesson salesman Tim Jenkins did.


"McKesson was duped ... into providing the drugs", lawyer John Tull argued.

At one point on Thursday night, the United States Supreme Court almost halted Mr.

Also on Wednesday, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an order staying a fourth execution scheduled to occur a little more than 24 hours later. They are Bruce Ward, Don Davis and Stacey Johnson. Lee's defense team had earlier in the day requested a stay to prove his innocence through DNA testing.

Will the Supreme Court intervene?


Lee was convicted in 1995 in the murder of Debra Reese, 26, two years prior, the daily reported.

"We are pleased that the court has ruled in our favor and we look forward to the return of our product", McKesson said in a statement on Wednesday. "Lee and identify the real perpetrator of the crime".

The scheduled executions, comprising eight in total, marked the most by a state in such a compressed period since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in the 1970s. On Thursday, his attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit asking for a stay of his execution to allow more time for new DNA testing in the case. But the Arkansas Supreme Court vacated Griffen's ruling days after he participated in an anti-death penalty rally and reassigned some of his cases. Hutchinson pointed to the dissents and said he knows "families of the victims are anxious for a clear-cut explanation from the majority as to how they came to this conclusion and how there appears to be no end to the court's review".

The state of Arkansas plans to execute three more men next week to beat the clock on their expiring drug supply. She gave accounts of what she had witnessed to co-anchors following the execution. Gen. Leslie Rutledge said in a statement. Less often, it's the state that seeks permission to proceed after a lower court has blocked an execution.


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