Arkansas on Monday continued their controversial execution spree by carrying out back-to-back executions to become the first USA state to kill more than one inmate on the same day in 17 years.
A federal judge in Little Rock temporarily halted the execution of 46-year-old, Marcel Williams after his attorneys questioned whether the night's earlier execution of 52-year-old, Jack Jones went properly. At 7:20 p.m. the state pronounced Jones dead. Ledell Lee was executed Thursday, and Jack Jones and Marcel Williams were put to death Monday.
Jones was administered the lethal injection at 7:06 p.m. Monday (8:06 p.m. ET) and pronounced dead 14 minutes later. The attorneys, according to the filing, argued that Williams, who was obese, could face a "torturous" and "inhumane" death because of his weight.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled eight executions to be carried out over 11 days in April - a pace not seen in Arkansas since at least September 1913, according to Department of Correction records.
In recent pleas to state and federal courts, the two inmates said the three drug cocktail Arkansas uses could have been ineffective due to their poor health. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a short period since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Williams' request for a stay of execution.
Arkansas authorities are in a rush to carry out the executions before the end of April, when its supply of midazolam expires. Arkansas has killed three inmates so far this year, with one more scheduled for Thursday.
Both Williams and Jones' lawyers challenged the use of midazolam to sedate the inmates, claiming their particular medical conditions would render the drug ineffective.
A federal judge lifted the stay on the execution.
A state prison spokesman said Jones was speaking to state Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley when his lips moved, but did not know if a transcript was available.
Jones was convicted in 1996 of raping and murdering Mary Phillips in the accounting office where she worked as a bookkeeper. Phillips was found naked from the waist down with the cord from a coffee pot wrapped around her neck.
Williams also admitted to the state Parole Board last month that he had abducted and raped two other women in the days before his arrest over Errickson's murder.
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The judge had to decide whether there was sufficient evidence that an inmate executed earlier that evening showed signs that he was suffering while he was put to death.
The state's attorney general denied the claims.
Because the microphone was off during Monday's first execution, witnesses disagreed on whether Jack Jones was struggling for air after being given 500 milligrams of midazolam.
Williams was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson of Jacksonville, after kidnapping her from a gas station.
Williams requested three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with ketchup, banana pudding, nachos topped with chili cheese and jalapeño peppers and two Mountain Dews.
Jones ate fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, beef jerky bites, three candy bars, a chocolate milkshake and fruit punch.
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.
Williams has been transferred to Arkansas' Cummins Unit, where executions are carried out.
"That's what I had been told", he continued.
Williams was serving a life sentence at the Arkansas Department of Correction for capital murder, attempted capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, theft and arson when he escaped October 3, 1999, by hiding in a "slop" truck.