Court rejects stay for 1 of 2 Arkansas inmates

Cheryl Sanders
April 24, 2017

A court in the U.S. state of Arkansas has been asked to halt what could be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years because of fears their poor health could cause complications.

If the execution of Jack Jones and Marcel Williams is carried out, it would be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years.

Both men have pending litigation - including an appeal to the 8th Circuit over a lower court ruling (noted below) surrounding the lethal injection drug.

Williams was denied clemency in March while Jones was denied earlier this month by the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Lawyers for Jones' say he suffers from diabetes and is on insulin, has high blood pressure, neuropathy and had one leg amputated below the knee.

Williams' lawyers say he weighs 400 pounds and it will be hard to find a vein for lethal injunction, so the drugs are unlikely to work as intended. The company claimed that the state obtained its supplies under false pretenses, but the state's Supreme Court threw out that lawsuit last week.

Two federal judges on Sunday ruled against the inmates in separate cases.

Also, late Sunday (April 23), Williams's motion for stay of execution was denied by Federal District Court Judge Holmes.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they're guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for Monday might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the more than 16 years. The Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, originally scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April.

The state set such a compressed schedule because its supply of one of the lethal injection drugs, midazolam, expires at the end of April.

Lee, 51, was given the death penalty for the 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, whom Lee struck 36 times with a tire tool.

"Marcel Williams has a very compelling case that's been discussed where he had a pretty horrific childhood growing up of sexual abuse, and that wasn't brought up at trial", Rosenberg said.

Jones was convicted in 1996 of raping and strangling Mary Phillips and attempting to murder her 11-year-old daughter.

Another inmate, Kenneth Williams, is set to be executed this Thursday. inmate Jason McGehee also had been scheduled to die that day, but a parole board has recommended his life be spared and a judge ruled that the state had to allow a 30-day period for public comment before making a final decision. But four of the eight inmates have had their executions blocked by the courts.

Arkansas plans to execute two more inmates just days after it was granted the power to do so again, after more than a decade-long legal battle.

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