Contrasting accounts of Arkansas execution from witnesses

Kathleen Mckinney
May 3, 2017

Arkansas carried out death sentences for two inmates through lethal injection on Monday evening, marking the country's first double execution in almost 17 years.

Jones Sr., 52, left, and Marcel Williams, 46, were both convicted of rape and murder, and were executed Monday night.

Lawyers for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are seeking stays of execution on grounds of poor health. Williams was declared dead after he was administered the same injection about three hours later, at 10:33 p.m. EDT, following denial by federal and state courts of last-minute appeals to stay the executions.

Jones, his appeals exhausted and his execution cleared by the Supreme Court "had been pushed into the death chamber in a wheelchair having had one leg amputated as a result of diabetes", according to the Guardian.

Their deaths marked the nation's first-double execution since 2000, when Texas put condemned inmates to death on the same night. Courts have blocked four lethal injections, including at least one that was called off only hours before the inmate was to enter the death chamber.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has said the accelerated execution timetable was necessary as the state's stock of a sedative used in lethal injections will expire at the end of the month.

McGehee was scheduled for execution on Thursday, April 27, until the parole board recommended 6-1 to commute his sentence to life without parole.

The inmates in line for their executions are Ledell Lee, who was executed last Thursday, April 20.

Both Williams and Jones' lawyers challenged the use of midazolam to sedate the inmates, claiming their particular medical conditions would render the drug ineffective.

The government of Arkansas executed two men Monday evening despite concerns from attorneys that the first state killing had been "torturous and inhumane".

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". He raped, strangled, and killed her, and beat her 11-year-old daughter, Lacey, during his robbery of her accounting office.

Arkansas had planned to put eight convicted murderers to death in 11 days - a record, had it been carried out - but four have won reprieves. "As far as we could tell, the inmate was not having any trouble throughout it". Jones had three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, three Butterfingers, a chocolate milkshake, and fruit punch. The Arkansas Supreme Court denied the claim, though an appeal from one inmate remains up for consideration by the Supreme Court.

Williams requested three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with ketchup, banana pudding, nachos topped with chili cheese and jalapeƱo peppers and two Mountain Dews.

Williams has been transferred to Arkansas' Cummins Unit, where executions are carried out. One of those women, Dina Windle, flew in to be present for Williams' clemency hearing that took place in March.

Lawyers for Williams say it may be hard to find a vein on their client for the lethal injection because he weighs 400lb (180kg). The state's prison director has said Arkansas has no new supply of the drug readily available.

He had been convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he had kidnapped at an Arkansas gas station. The last USA state to have executed two inmates in one day is Texas, on 9 August 2000. 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.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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