Supreme Court denies Arkansas execution

Supreme Court denies Arkansas execution

The decision was seen as a victory for Davis' lawyers, as well as the large number of death penalty opponents who have protested Hutchinson's plan. If taken by the country's highest court, the justices would have to give a more definitive answer about the controversial drug midazolam - the first drug in Arkansas's lethal injection cocktail. Protesters gather outside the state Capitol building on Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark., to voice their opposition to Arkansas' seven upcoming executions.

In the early hours of April 18, the US Supreme Court denied Arkansas' application to vacate the stay on Davis' execution.

But prosecutors surmounted a major roadblock earlier on Monday when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court judge's ruling to stay all of the executions.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was "disappointed in this delay for the victim's family", though he noted that no stays now block executions for five other condemned inmates scheduled to die before the month's end.

Catholic leaders praised the federal and state rulings that granted stays of executions for a group of Arkansas death-row inmates during the week of April 17.

DeMillo reported from Little Rock.

Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson are scheduled to receive lethal injections on Thursday.

The drug supplier, McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc., had stated that the drug manufacturer prohibits vecuronium for use in executions, and that Arkansas had purchased it under false pretenses. In Monday's dizzying legal drama, both rulings were reversed, which could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

April 18 USA drug wholesaler McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc sued Arkansas a second time on Tuesday, saying the state acted fraudulently in obtaining a drug it intends to administer in a record number of executions this month and demanding it not use the batch to kill people.

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However, after their lawyers argued they were mentally unfit to face execution, the Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay.

The executions were set for this month because Arkansas' supply of midazolam expires on May 1.

Scott Braden, Arkansas Assistant Federal Defense Attorney who represents Ward, said executing either man before the Supreme Court's decision would be "profoundly arbitrary and unjust".

The US Supreme court's denial of the state's request came minutes before Davis's execution warrant expired at 12:00 am local time (0500 GMT), wrapping up a day of legal wrangling among state and federal courts over the state's accelerated execution plan. "Mr. Davis has organic brain damage, intellectual disability, a history of head injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other severe mental health conditions".

"The attorney general will go back to the state supreme court and address the merits in both cases brought by Ward and Davis", Deere said.

However, three of the condemned killers headed for the death chamber this month have already won stays of execution in a flurry of legal challenges and criticism that Arkansas was acting recklessly.

If Arkansas had its way, the state would have two fewer inmates on death row today.

Davis was the first of eight inmates scheduled to be executed over 10 days.

The inmates say midazolam is unsuitable because it is not a painkiller and could subject them to a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the US Constitution.

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