Death row killers given stay of execution in lethal injection dispute

As the lawsuits played out Monday, the state's execution facility was braced for a rapid reversal of the decisions.

(Sherry Simon via AP).

"Davis' exact schedule for the day is confidential but as part of the death protocol, he will be meeting with counsel and a spiritual adviser", KATV reports.

(AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel).

That cleared the way for Arkansas to proceed with executions of the six remaining inmates, scheduled for April 24 and April 27.

But on Tuesday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright rejected that request, noting that Lee's conviction has been reviewed multiple times. Wright wrote that he won't substitute his own judgment "for that of the jurors two decades removed". In fact, it was his second "last meal", the first coming in 2010 before his execution was stayed at the last minute.

Bruce Earl Ward and Don William Davis Jr. had been scheduled to die Monday night, the first of four double executions set by Gov. Asa Hutchinson for an 11-day period. A stay was earlier placed on Ward's sentence by an Arkansas court. Johnson's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, wants a court to order new DNA testing on hair found in the victim's apartment and on clothing that prosecutors found at a rest stop and linked to Johnson.

However, after their lawyers argued they were mentally unfit to face execution, the Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay.

After the State Supreme Court lifted the judge's ruling that blocked the executions because it prohibited Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, another o lethal injection drug.

There are still five Arkansas executions scheduled before the end of April; a state parole board voted to recommend one of the original eight death row inmates, Jason McGehee, for clemency.

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It is also appealing against Mr Griffen's order that the prison system cannot use a paralysing drug until he could determine whether the state obtained it properly.

The state judge's decision, reached Friday, was based on how Arkansas acquired another drug - vecuronium bromide, which is used in anesthesia as well as executions.

Attorneys for the eight are likely to appeal the federal court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arkansas, which last carried out an execution a dozen years ago, has sought to resume capital punishment this month with a plan that originally called for putting eight inmates to death by lethal injection in 11 days.

Rosenzweig also represents two other inmates scheduled to die this month - Jack Jones and Kenneth Williams. Lee has a hearing in that case Tuesday.

If Arkansas had its way, the state would have two fewer inmates on death row today. He is also serving prison time for the rapes of a woman and teen from Jacksonville.

His attorneys have separately asked a federal judge to consider claims that Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage and an intellectual disability. Ward, who was convicted of killing 18-year-old Rebecca Doss in 1990, had received a stay of execution from the state supreme court earlier in the week over his mental health.

But even with the court-issued stays, the executions are still possible before the end of April if the cases are sent to the Supreme Court and it sides with the state of Arkansas in its appeal.

The state's effort to carry out the executions hit a legal setback Monday as the Arkansas Supreme Court put two executions on hold and the US Supreme Court refused to intervene in its favor.

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