Arkansas vows to keep pushing for executions despite setback

The execution of a third inmate, Jason McGehee, had been set for April 27, but a federal judge put it on hold earlier this month, saying McGehee was entitled to a 30-day comment period after the Arkansas Parole Board told the governor that the inmate's clemency request had merit.

On Monday the Arkansas Supreme Court also made two decisions relating to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin and his decisions.

Convicted murderers Don Davis and Bruce Ward, who have spent more than 20 years on death row, were to be executed in Arkansas on Monday night, the first time the state has used the death penalty in 12 years.

Acting shortly before midnight, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift a stay issued Monday by the Arkansas Supreme Court that prevented the execution of one of the inmates, Don Davis, report the Washington Post, Arkansas Times, New York Times and Arkansas Online.

The state would use a three-drug lethal injection protocol.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit also reversed the decision by Judge Baker halting the executions over the use of midazolam.

Justice Samuel Alito referred the request to the full court, which ruled just minutes before Arkansas's execution warrant for Davis expired.

The state's plan to carry out a double execution on Monday night was scuttled after stays were issued for the two death row inmates.

DeMillo reported from Little Rock.




The state has not executed a convict since 2005.

The state judge's decision, reached Friday, was based on how Arkansas acquired another drug - vecuronium bromide, which is used in anesthesia as well as executions.

"The Department of Corrections' attention now shifts to the executions that are scheduled for Thursday", Graves said.

But even with the court-issued stays, the executions are still possible before the end of April if the cases are sent to the Supreme Court and it sides with the state of Arkansas in its appeal.

The state "intended to use this product in connection with executions, a fact that was never disclosed to McKesson", the company said in Tuesday's filing in state court in Little Rock.

Griffen scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning, then joined anti-death penalty protesters outside the governor's mansion and tied himself to a cot as though he were an inmate on a death chamber gurney. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said it wasn't clear whether the state could acquire additional supplies of the sedative midazolam. Both inmates wanted stays of execution.

Don Davis had been given his last meal Monday evening, with the U.S. high court decision to leave a state court's stay of execution in place coming as the minutes ticked toward 1 a.m. ET (midnight Central Time) when the execution warrant was to expire. The two are among eight Arkansas inmates facing possible execution this month amid a flurry of legal actions involving all eight cases.

The sedative has been used in botched executions, and some medical experts have claimed it is not proven to be effective, thus exposing an inmate to the risk of severe pain as the other drugs are administered. Attorneys had asked for the stay while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a separate case concerning inmates' access to independent mental health experts.

Scott Braden, Arkansas Assistant Federal Defense Attorney who represents Ward, said executing either man before the Supreme Court's decision would be "profoundly arbitrary and unjust".

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