Ruling clears way for Arkansas' 1st execution since 2005

Ledell Lee

Four of the inmates have received individual stays of execution. Lee's defense team had earlier in the day requested a stay to prove his innocence through DNA testing.

Lee, 51, was sentenced to death in October 1995 in Pulaski County, Arkansas, for the murder of 26-year-old Debra Reese. Anti-death penalty supporters Abraham Bonowitz, left, and Randy Gardner wait near their taped off "protest corral" outside the Varner Unit late Monday, April 17, 2017 near Varner, Ark. Lee showed no signs of consciousness two minutes after the lethal injection, which began at 11:44 p.m. "Lee without allowing him a simple DNA test". "While reasonable people can disagree on whether death is an appropriate form of punishment, no one should be executed when there is a possibility that person is innocent". Among them, attorneys noted that Lee's lawyers in his first trial provided inadequate counsel and that the presiding judge didn't disclose an affair with the assistant prosecutor, whom the judge later married. Outside groups and the candidates spent more than $1.6 million previous year on a pair of high court races that were among the most fiercely fought judicial campaigns in the state's history. "Why these eight? Why now?"

"What McKesson's lawsuit demonstrates is that the secrecy law is not created to protect the distributors and manufacturers; it's created to try to prevent them from learning that the state has improperly obtained the drugs", said Dunham, whose nonprofit group opposes the death penalty.

VARNER, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas overcame a flurry of court challenges that derailed three other executions, putting to death an inmate for the first time in almost a dozen years as part of a plan that would have been the country's most ambitious since the death penalty was restored in 1976. Rutledge's office said the attorney general would not appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court denied an appeal from Ledell Lee, the other inmate scheduled for execution on Thursday - but his execution, along with all the others on the calendar, is still blocked by a second court ruling.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who was in favor of granting Lee a stay, lamented that Arkansas's driving factor ― the expiration date of the drugs ― seemed arbitrary.

The company said that ADC placed the order for the drug over the phone and never disclosed that the drug was to be used for executions.

Ruling clears way for Arkansas' 1st execution since 2005
Ruling clears way for Arkansas' 1st execution since 2005

McKesson Corp., a San Francisco-based medical supply company, "claimed that the state deliberately circumvented them to use the drugs for executions".

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider its decision to halt the execution of an inmate the state planned to put to death Thursday night.

Even if Arkansas wins reversals at the state level, the eight inmates who were scheduled to be put to death this month have three requests for reprieves at the U.S. Supreme Court. His execution originally was set for 7 p.m.

"The verdict has been attacked, appealed and considered multiple times here and in higher courts, and this court will not now substitute its own judgment for that of the jurors two decades removed", Judge Herbert T. Wright Jr. of Circuit Court in Little Rock wrote in an order on Tuesday.

Another day of intense legal wrangling kept Lee alive until just before his death warrant expired at midnight.

A prison spokesman said Lee on Thursday declined a last meal and opted instead to receive communion. Without the use of the drug, Arkansas would not be able to carry out executions unless it obtains a replacement drug for its protocol.

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