Executions In 8 Days: What's Next For Death Row In Arkansas?

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 29, 2017

Kenneth Williams was sentenced to death for killing former deputy warden Cecil Boren after escaping from the Cummins Unit prison in a 500-gallon barrel of hog slop in 1999.

Kenneth Williams' 21-year-old daughter, Jasmine Johnson, and her young daughter traveled to Varner Supermax, in Grady, using plane tickets purchased for them by the family of Michael Greenwood, whom Williams killed in a 1999 vehicle crash that occurred after Williams escaped from prison.

Boren's daughter, Jodie Efird, watched the execution Thursday night from the death chamber. "He is man who counsels and helps people who may be in a dark place because they never felt love, or were victims of a frightful upbringing that caused trauma and hurt", she wrote.

Johnson said she was stunned by the generosity of the Greenwood family.

The underlying question is whether Williams could have been conscious when an executioner pushed a paralytic, vecuronium bromide, and heart-stopping potassium chloride into his IV line, two drugs that can make it hard to breathe and can cause severe pain in someone who is awake.

"I was more than wrong".

Williams, a convicted murderer, was executed Thursday night, one of four Arkansas inmates put to death in eight days.

"State officials must not be allowed to cover up what went wrong in all four of these executions", Scott Braden, of the Arkansas Federal Defender's Office, said in a statement.

In separate rulings earlier Thursday the US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Williams' request.

Williams was convicted in the 1998 killing of Dominique Hurd, the university cheerleader.

In 1999, he escaped from Cummins prison and killed Cecil Boren at his home just a couple miles away. The following day, Williams hit and killed water delivery truck driver Michael Greenwood, a husband and father of three.

Williams reportedly scored a 70 on an IQ test, "squarely within the intellectual disability range" which would make him ineligible for the death penalty, the Fair Sentencing Project claimed.

"We just live 2 miles from the prison". But what happened in Arkansas put an unusual amount of attention on the practise in the media.

State officials have testified all three drug suppliers previously used will not sell or give any more lethal drugs to Arkansas.

A lawyer for an executed Arkansas death row inmate asked the state on Friday (local time) to investigate why his client coughed and convulsed on a death chamber gurney, saying a lethal injection drug may have been the cause.

"To Kayla Greenwood and the whole Greenwood family, the acts of grace, forgiveness and mercy you demonstrated toward the person who had taken so much from you, by bringing to me in prison my own baby and grandchild, right be fore my scheduled execution".

Some concerns had been raised about Monday's execution of Jack Jones, whose mouth moved after attorneys said he should have been unconscious, though a federal judge determined it did not appear to be "torturous and inhumane".

Kenneth Williams, who was executed with the use of the sedative midazolam on April 27, 2017.

The State of Arkansas performed its 200th execution on Thursday, with the death of Kenneth Williams.

"Everything points to a decline and if this continues, the United States supreme court is going to have to view it as a consensus of some sort".

States generally didn't use midazolam in the past, but they've turned to it as drug makers clamped down on the use of other drugs in executions.

All of the major manufacturers of injectable midazolam have said they do not want their drugs used in executions and majority have created control systems, including contracts with third-party drug distributors prohibiting the sale of their drugs for use in lethal injections. Company representatives have said they have contracts with manufacturers saying they can not sell the drugs for executions.

More than the prisoners themselves, or their crimes, the drugs themselves were the centrepiece of debate in Arkansas. Because of this, prisons have had a hard time obtaining midazolam, with drug manufacturers refusing to supply it. He described the breathing as "a clear attempt to draw oxygen" and said the prisoner attempted to draw breath until 10:59 p.m.

Amnesty International denounced the unprecedented string of execution warrants as Arkansas' "conveyer belt of death".

Greenwood's family had brought Williams' daughter and granddaughter to Arkansas so they could see him one last time.

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