Arkansas carries out 'first double execution' in USA since 2000

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 27, 2017

He was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman he kidnapped from a gas station.

The southern USA state of Arkansas executed two people in the span of about three hours late Monday, as authorities work to carry out death sentences on a number of inmates before a drug used in the lethal injections expires at the end of the month. Jones was given the death penalty for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. Last Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted a reprieve for two other of the condemned inmates - Don Davis and Bruce Ward - based on claims about their mental health, as well as a debate over whether expert witnesses can testify for both parties in a case.

Up until last week, the state hadn't held an execution since 2005. Jones, convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1995, was put to death shortly after 7 p.m., and Williams' attorneys then asked for a stay, saying that Williams' obesity would make it too hard for an IV to be placed and questioning if Jones' execution went according to plan.

Williams' execution was scheduled for 8:15 p.m., but was postponed after District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary Stay of Execution.

In the emergency filing, Williams' attorneys wrote that officials spent 45 minutes trying to place an IV line in Jones' neck before placing it elsewhere.

Williams' legal team had earlier argued that his extreme obesity - Williams weighed 400 pounds (180 kilograms) - would make it hard to find a proper vein for the lethal injection. And the coroner has pronounced Jack Harold Jones dead at 7:20 p.m. this 24th day of April.

Officials said Williams was in the death chamber and on the gurney when word of the stay arrived.

Initially, Governor Asa Hutchinson scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April.

Lee's execution followed a flurry of court rulings Thursday, capped by the US Supreme Court's denial of multiple requests for stays of execution.

"If there was one execution and witnesses had these observations there would have been time for the lawyers and experts to evaluate it and time for the court to consider it", said Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who witnessed Joseph Rudolph Wood's slow death in a lethal injection in 2014 in Arizona that involved midazolam, a drug Arkansas has used in its three executions over the past week.

Williams was the third inmate to be put to death in Arkansas in the past week. However, four of the eight men received stays or delays of their executions, and their cases will come up for hearing in courts on or after April 30. In Jones' last words he said, "I can't believe I did something to her".

GRAVES: (Reading) I hope over time you could learn who I really am and I am not a monster. He refused to give a final statement.

Jones was convicted in the 1995 rape and murder of a mother in front of her young daughter.

Jones said earlier this month that he was ready for execution.

Seal, now 32, said she planned to be at the Cummins prison unit for Jones' execution, in a waiting room where she wouldn't view his death.

Williams had argued that his obesity could make it hard for officials to place an IV, and also that his previous lawyers were ineffectual at trial and during earlier appeals.

The Arkansas Department of Corrections administered lethal injections to the inmates. Jones requested three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, three butterfingers, a chocolate milkshake and fruit punch. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, the AP reported.

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.

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