Path cleared for Arkansas executions
Apr 21, 2017-
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.
Instead of a last meal, he asked to receive communion, said an official.
The state had planned to carry out eight executions in 11 days, before its supply of the lethal injection drug, midazolam, expired on 30 April.
The first three executions were cancelled due to various court rulings.
Lee will be executed at the Cummins Unit in south-east Arkansas, after his third request to stay the execution was denied.
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".
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.
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
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.
Published: 21-04-2017 09:55