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Arkansas conducts first execution since 2005, plans 3 more

21 April 2017, 08:09 | Darin Griffith

Convicted murderer Ledell Lee was executed in Arkansas on Thursday shortly before midnight, the state's first death row execution since 2005.

The state of Arkansas has justified the pace of the scheduled executions because another lethal injection drug, the sedative midazolam, expires at the end of April.

The decision came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Arkansas' request to execute Don Davis, who has waited on death row for almost three decades for the 1990 murder of Jane Daniel.

Ledell Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56pm on Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Innocence Project have filed motions claiming that DNA testing from the time was not sophisticated enough to prove his guilt and have asked for new tests to be carried out, but those motions among others were rejected on Thursday (20 April).

Late Wednesday, the Arkansas Supreme Court blocked the execution of Stacey Johnson, which was scheduled for Thursday night.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says Lee did not make a final statement before his execution began at 11:44 p.m.

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The nation's top court as well as a U.S. circuit court issued temporary execution stays as they analyzed the case - but ultimately all were lifted. With a 500 mg dose listed in the state's execution protocol, Arkansas expects that the inmates will not be aware they are dying. "When I set the dates, I knew there could be delays in one or more of the cases, but I expected the courts to allow the juries' sentences to be carried out since each case had been reviewed multiple times by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed the guilt of each".

The company, a unit of McKesson Corp, said it would not have sold the drug to the Arkansas prison system had it known it would be used in executions. Rutledge's office said the attorney general would not appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. (It also applies to one other man on death row who has not been scheduled for execution.) The company McKesson Medical-Surgical, Inc., sold these drugs to Arkansas Department of Correction and has argued in court the state misrepresented how it meant to use the drug.

An earlier order halting the use of vercuronium bromide - one of the three drugs used in the state's lethal injection process - was overturned by the court.

Update (April 21, 1:06 a.m.): The AP reports that Arkansas carried out its first execution in over a decade.

That plan prompted what death penalty experts have said was an unprecedented array of legal filings, and raised questions about USA death chamber protocols and lethal injection drug mixes.

Lawyers for the state have complained that the inmates are filing court papers just to use up the time remaining on Arkansas' midazolam supply. The scheduling was necessary, the state has acknowledged, because the state's midazolam supply expires at the end of the month. He received three lethal injections, including midazolam, to render him unconscious, vecuronium bromide to halt his breathing, and potassium chloride to stop his heart. "That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random".



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