Arkansas executes 2 inmates on the same gurney, hours apart

2017-04-25 06:59
A demonstration against the death penalty outside the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock. (Sherry Simon via AP, File)

A demonstration against the death penalty outside the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock. (Sherry Simon via AP, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Varner - Two inmates received lethal injections on the same gurney on Monday night about three hours apart as Arkansas completed the nation's first double execution since 2000, just days after the state ended a nearly 12-year hiatus on administering capital punishment.

While the first inmate, Jack Jones, was executed on schedule, shortly after 19:00, attorneys for the second, Marcel Williams, convinced a federal judge minutes later to briefly delay his punishment over concerns about how the earlier one was carried out. They claimed Jones gasped for air, an account the state's attorney general denied, but the judge lifted her stay about an hour later and Williams was pronounced dead at 22:33.

Initially, Governor Asa Hutchinson scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30.

The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions, then inmate Ledell Lee was executed last week.

Arkansas' last double execution occurred in 1999.

Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He strangled her with the cord to a coffee pot.

He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

Jones said earlier this month that he was ready for execution. He used a wheelchair and he'd had a leg amputated in prison because of diabetes.

'Morbid obesity'

Williams' "morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage [like a collapsed lung]," his attorneys wrote in an earlier court filing asking justices to block the execution.

Both men were served last meals on Monday afternoon, Arkansas Department of Correction spokesperson Solomon Graves said. Jones had fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, beef jerky bites, three candy bars, a chocolate milkshake and fruit punch. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, Graves said.

In recent pleadings before state and federal courts, the inmates said the three drugs Arkansas uses to execute prisoners - midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride - could be ineffective because of their poor health.

Jones, 52, lost a leg to diabetes and was on insulin. Williams, 46, weighs 181kg, is diabetic and has concerns that the execution team might not be able to find a suitable vein to support an intravenous line.

The poor health of both men, their lawyers claimed, could make it difficult for them to respond during a consciousness check following a megadose of midazolam. The state shouldn't risk giving them drugs to stop their lungs and hearts if they aren't unconscious, they have told courts.

The last state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day was Texas, which executed two killers in August 2000. Oklahoma planned a double execution in 2014, but scrapped plans for the second one after the execution of Clayton Lockett went awry.

Arkansas executed four men in an eight-day period in 1960. The only quicker pace included quadruple executions in 1926 and 1930.

Williams was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he kidnapped from a gas station in central Arkansas.

'Forgiveness'

Authorities said Williams abducted and raped two other women in the days before he was arrested in Errickson's death. Williams admitted responsibility to the state Parole Board last month.

"I wish I could take it back, but I can't," Williams told the board.

In a letter earlier this month, Jones said he was ready to be killed by the state. The letter, which his attorney read aloud at his clemency hearing, went on to say: "I shall not ask to be forgiven, for I haven't the right."

Including Jones and Williams, nine people have been executed in the United States this year, four in Texas, three in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Virginia.

Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

French Bulldog helps kids with facial differences

Lentil Bean is a french bulldog who was born with a severe cleft nose, lip and palate.

 
 

Paws

Weird things dogs do
Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.