Supreme Court Spares Arkansas Death-Row Inmate

The original plan was to double the executions over four nights, prior to the state's supply of lethal injection drugs expired. The state Supreme Court on Monday had lifted a judge's order blocking the drug's use in executions, which the company had initially sought.

If granted approval Don Davis could be the first of several prisoners in the southeastern state executed in the next 10 days, an unprecedented pace.

Rutledge said the court's decision is "heartbreaking that the family of Jane Daniel has once again seen justice delayed", referring to the victim in Davis' case. But a series of legal challenges has spared the lives of both inmates and thrown the state's capital punishment process into chaos.

The state ruling also applied to Bruce Ward, an Arkansas prisoner whose execution, originally scheduled for Monday, was already the subject of an unrelated stay.

The remaining inmates who are to be put to death before the end of the month are expected to appeal the 8th circuit's decision to the Supreme Court as well. The executions of Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee are scheduled for April 20, but their attorneys are working to halt those as well. But the Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday.

A major USA pharmaceutical firm sued Arkansas again over capital punishment on Tuesday, claiming prison officials fraudulently obtained a muscle relaxant to administer in several executions and demanding the drug in question be confiscated from the state.

Their lawyers had argued they were mentally unfit to face execution and were denied proper assessment.

In a one-paragraph order released in the early morning hours Tuesday, the nation's highest court declined to lift Davis' stay of execution granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

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In another case, Baker cancelled an April 18 hearing in which the lawyers for Marcel Williams, who is scheduled to be executed April 24, meant to argue that because of his obesity, Arkansas' lethal injection protocol is not likely to kill him and could cause organ damage.

The execution would have been the first in Arkansas since 2005.

Who is Arkansas still scheduled to execute?

"It is understandable that the inmates are taking every step possible to avoid the sentence of the jury; however, it is the court's responsibility to administer justice and bring conclusion to litigation", Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

Lee, who is also black, was sentenced to death in 1993 for the murder of his neighbor, a white woman.

Braden said Ward is schizophrenic and Davis has organic brain damage and is intellectually disabled.

Meanwhile, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated April 17 a federal judge's preliminary stay of executions which had been handed down April 15. The court said it granted the stays due to McWilliams v. Dunn, a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court involving the question of whether indigent defendants are entitled to independent expert witnesses. But the appeals court said the use of the method of execution, which includes midazolam, did not create undue severe pain. But at 11:45 p.m. CT, the Court ruled to keep the lower court's ruling in place, ensuring the execution would not happen. However, one of the stipulations is that the company cannot sell the drug to federal and state correctional facilities that engage in capital punishment.

Although the schedule narrowed as judges issued stays of execution, Hutchinson faced pressure to back away from his plans, and the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock was the scene of protests.

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