Path cleared for Arkansas executions

Media captionLedell Lee tells the BBC he is innocent

Arkansas will move forward with a series of executions after the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling blocking the lethal injection.

Justices reversed a judge’s order barring the use of vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs used in the state’s death penalty.

The ruling clears the path for the execution of Ledell Lee on Thursday evening, the state’s first in 12 years.

The state had planned to carry out eight executions in 11 days.

Arkansas argued it needed to carry out the executions before its supply of the lethal injection drug, midazolam, expired on 30 April.

The other inmate due to die on Thursday has been given a stay to make time for advanced DNA testing that his lawyers say could prove his innocence.

Stacey Johnson was convicted of the murder of Carol Heath, who was beaten and had her throat slit in her flat in 1993.

That leaves only Ledell Lee due to be executed on Thursday night, and a request to stay the execution was denied just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.

He told the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in a recent interview that he was innocent of the murder of Debra Reese, and death row was like a “living nightmare”.

Media captionArkansas victim’s husband: ‘My wife suffered big time’

The ruling on Thursday paves the way for the series of executions the state had planned this month.

Like many US states, Arkansas has struggled to find the drugs it needs to carry out executions. Its last was in 2005.

What this means – Aleem Maqbool, BBC News

The frenetic filing of lawsuits and appeals in Arkansas has a profound impact on those awaiting execution, on their families and on the relatives of their victims.

The widower of one victim told me that if he had been told from the beginning that his wife’s killer would be in prison for life without parole, he might have been able to move on.

But, he said, to have the prospect of the man’s execution arise and disappear over the years means reliving the hurt of the murder itself, and that every stay of execution now feels like an insult to his wife.

What this highlights is how hard it has become for states to kill by lethal injection, with botched executions and drug companies saying they do not want their products associated with the practice.

What did all these men do?

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Eight were set to die, before Jason McGehee (bottom left) was granted a temporary stay while a plea for clemency is heard

Bruce Ward – Strangled teenage shop clerk Rebecca Doss

Don Davis – Condemned for the execution-style killing of Jane Daniel as he burgled her home

Stacey Johnson – Murdered Carol Heath, who was beaten, strangled and had her throat slit

Ledell Lee – Bludgeoned Debra Reese to death with a tyre iron her husband had given her for protection

Jack Jones – Condemned for the rape and murder of accounts clerk Mary Phillips, and the nearly fatal beating of her 11-year-old daughter

Marcel Williams – Raped and murdered Stacey Erickson, after kidnapping her from a convenience store

Kenneth Williams – Murdered farmer Cecil Boren during an escape from prison where Williams had been incarcerated for murdering cheerleader Dominique Hurd

Path cleared for Arkansas executions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.