Arkansas executions temporarily on hold

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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.

In a 4-3 ruling, justices denied the state's motion to reconsider the stay issued for Stacey Johnson.

"I know the families of the victims are anxious for a clear-cut explanation from the majority as to how they came to this conclusion and how there appears to be no end to the court's review", Hutchinson said.

"The spokesman, Solomon Graves, said the two are being held in separate cells adjacent to the execution chamber, which is a short drive down the road from the Varner Unit, another prison that houses death-row inmates". The drug is one of three used in Arkansas' lethal injection protocol.

Arkansas had planned to execute Johnson and Ledell Lee Thursday night. Lawyers for inmates filed multiple legal challenges to derail a plan that originally called for eight men to be put to death before April 30, when Arkansas' supply of a sedative used in lethal injections expires. The execution took place after several last-minute appeals temporarily postponed the execution, which was initially scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST. Three of those inmates have since received stays.

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.

Griffin said he used phone calls and text messages past year to order one of Arkansas' three execution drugs.

Arkansas Department of Correction Deputy Director Rory Griffin said he did not keep records of the texts, but McKesson salesman Tim Jenkins did.

A handful of drug companies are telling Arkansas that they don't want their products used to kill inmates.

Circuit Judge Alice Gray on Wednesday ordered the state to not use one of its execution drugs in executions set for Thursday night and next week. The state's elected prosecutors also criticized the roadblocks to the execution plans.

Don Davis and Bruce Ward were supposed to be the first two executed. "Here, as a result of decades of strategic litigation, justice has always been denied to (the inmates') victims and their loved ones". "I am evaluating options on how to proceed to ensure that justice is carried out", she said in a statement Wednesday night.

Arkansas executions temporarily on hold
Arkansas executions temporarily on hold

Thirty-one states now administer the death penalty, and lethal injection is the primary means of execution in all of them.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he was disappointed by the latest setback to the execution schedule. Arkansas hasn't executed anyone since 2005. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

Lawyers for Lee are also petitioning for a reprieve from the state's top court, which has yet to issue a ruling.

Two executions are set for Thursday, followed by another double execution Monday and a single execution April 27.

The court may be even more reluctant to do so now with new Justice Neil Gorsuch on board, especially because Gorsuch could be thrust into the uncomfortable position of taking a decisive and public death penalty stand very early in his tenure.

A judge in Pulaski County on Tuesday rejected the request for DNA testing from inmate Ledell Lee.

It was unclear whether the state would appeal Johnson's stay to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling was the third stay request for Lee denied by the Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday.

Back-to-back Arkansas executions set for Monday were halted indefinitely.

Courts have halted four of those executions.

It's one of three drugs Arkansas plans to use in its executions.

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