Arkansas court blocks execution of 2 inmates

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 18, 2017

The Arkansas Supreme Court also granted a stay of execution for Ward on Friday (April 14).

(Sherry Simon via AP).

Check back with Arkansas Online for updates on this developing story and read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

(AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel).

On Monday, the top state court in Arkansas declined to lift a stay of execution for the prisoner on the grounds that he has a long history of mental illness, making it hard for the state to go ahead with a judicial killing.

Judge Griffen had criticized the state's rapid timetable in a post last week on his blog, saying that, "While the world meditates about divine love, forgiveness, justice and hope, Arkansas officials plan to commit a series of homicides".

Davis' death warrant expires at midnight.

But Arkansas's attorney general requested that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the ruling so that Davis's execution could be carried out. In his other state Supreme Court race in 2006, Griffen challenged his rival to a debate over the free-speech rights of judges. The rush comes as one of the drugs used in the lethal injection protocol - midazolam - will expire at the end of April and nationwide supplies of the drug continue to dwindle.

According to an emergency petition filed by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Griffen participated in a rally before issuing his restraining order, report the Washington Times and the Associated Press.

In another surprising and separate development, the Arkansas Supreme Court late in the day also lifted a lower court's order that prohibited the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the lethal cocktail.

A federal appeals court dissolved a stay that had been issued by a federal judge, but other legal obstacles remain in state courts.

"Both Mr. Ward and Mr. Davis were denied independent mental health experts to help their defense attorneys investigate, understand and present these critical mental health issues to the jury", Scott Braden, an attorney representing both men said in a statement. The U.S. Supreme Court could be asked to tackle a number of questions before the end of the day and, depending on those answers, Ward could walk to the death chamber at Varner for a 7 p.m. execution.

"Their guilt is beyond dispute, and Arkansas is entitled to see that their victims receive justice decades after appellees' horrific crimes", Rutledge said. Thus, the state has asked judges to review the appeal quickly while inmates are asking the judges to take their time reviewing transcripts and rulings and allow oral arguments.

Asa Hutchinson said he expected a decision from the nation's highest court Monday night.

The second execution, that of Davis, was primed for 8.15pm, for the murder of Jane Daniel, 62, in her home in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1990.

Davis came within hours of execution in 2010 before a stay was granted.

A third inmate's execution was also halted by a federal judge earlier this month, who called off that lethal injection after a state parole board said it would recommend changing that inmate's sentence to life in prison without parole.

Ward's attorneys say he's a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

Baker granted a temporary injunction for all eight inmates, halting their executions on grounds including that the state's protocols violate US constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said it wasn't clear whether the state could acquire additional supplies of the sedative midazolam. McKesson, the supplier that sued Arkansas to try and block the use of the vecuronium bromide, asked to drop its case after Baker's order but has left open the possibility it may refile its lawsuit if executions move forward.

Arkansas death row inmate Don Davis ate his last meal tonight as state and federal courts deliberated over whether to proceed with his execution.

Justices on Monday reassigned the cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

Griffen told AP on Saturday that he is opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds, but that shouldn't disqualify him from hearing certain cases.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE