Arkansas judge: Order guided by law, not execution views
"The Arkansas Supreme Court in 2004 unanimously rejected an identical argument brought by inmate Stacey Johnson, but today, by a vote of four to three, the court has without legal explanation blocked the execution of an individual sentenced by two different juries", Rutledge said.
Since the last execution in 2005, the state Supreme Court has at least twice forced Arkansas to rewrite its death penalty law.
Griffen's order was dissolved on Monday by the Arkansas Supreme Court on the basis of McKesson's decision to withdraw the lawsuit.
This story has been corrected to show that the inmate's name is Ledell Lee, not Lendell Lee. In that order, the state Supreme Court did not elaborate on its reasoning.
"Because (Lee), like Stacey Johnson, has never gotten a hearing on his DNA petition, and has maintained his innocence for over two decades, we are hopeful that the Arkansas Supreme Court will also grant him a stay and give him a hearing on the DNA evidence", said the Innocence Project's Nina Morrison, who is one of Lee's attorneys.
The Correction Department purchased the drugs using the license of an Arkansas doctor, Tull said, and company records presented to the judge showed the sale had been conducted under the license of Dr. Robert Allen Floss, a family practitioner who is also regional medical director of Correct Care Solutions, the company contracted to provide health care services to the state's prison system.
The state attorney general's office has been tenacious, but so far unsuccessful, in its work to overturn the numerous legal challenges to the executions.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray sided with the company, and blocked the use of the drug in executions.
The state of Arkansas may go 0-for-8 in an ambitious plan to execute eight inmates this month after suffering two more legal blows on Wednesday. Once her order was in, the state filed a notice that it would appeal. The state concedes the pair will not be put to death this month.
In court papers filed Thursday, they say any new judges assigned to their cases in a state court at Little Rock should have time to become familiar with their pleadings.
Vecuronium bromide is often used in executions in the U.S. as a paralyzing agent that stops the inmate from breathing.
The Arkansas Department of Correction, however, continues to prepare a death chamber for Johnson to be put to death Thursday for killing a woman east of the Oklahoma border. In text messages from Jenkins' phone, which came up at a court hearing Wednesday, there is no mention that the drug would be used in executions.
Arkansas wants to appeal Gray's order, but needs a written order from her to do so.
An inmate set to die Thursday night is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to block his execution so he can pursue more DNA tests in hopes of proving his innocence.
Arkansas has said it will appeal a court ruling that bars the US state's use of a lethal injection drug and effectively puts a stop to its plans to execute eight prisoners in 11 days.
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson had set that schedule because one of the three drugs used in Arkansas executions, the sedative midazolam, expires at the end of April.
The state originally set eight executions to occur over an 11-day period in April, which would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. It was used in a "botched" Oklahoma execution in 2014, when a conscious inmate faced 40 minutes of paralysis and agonizing pain before suffering a heart attack.
Four of the eight inmates have received stays on unrelated issues.
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