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Arkansas execution plan again thrown into doubt

Arkansas execution plan again thrown into doubt

Once again throwing a wrench in the state's plans to conduct several executions before the end of April, the Arkansas Supreme Court has halted one of two executions planned for Thursday night. His attorneys have said he is a diagnosed schizophrenic. Hutchinson says he wants a clear explanation from the court majority as to how they came to the decision. But the Arkansas Supreme Court vacated that order after the judge, Wendell Griffen, was photographed participating in an anti-death penalty protest on the same day he issued his ruling.

Judge Alice Gray ruled in favor of the drug distributor, McKesson Medical-Surgical Incorporated's claim that the state misled the company when the Arkansas Department of Correction purchased the drug, vecuronium bromide.

According to court documents, the ADC acquired the drug under false pretense, telling McKesson that it would strictly be used for medical purposes.

The court hasn't explained its reasoning in any of its one-page stay-of-execution orders for the three inmates. The state is expected to appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The other inmate scheduled for Thursday, Ledell Lee, argued unsuccessfully Tuesday in a Little Rock courtroom that he be given a chance to test blood and hair evidence that could prove he didn't beat 26-year-old Debra Reese to death during a 1993 robbery in Jacksonville.

The state originally planned to carry out 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. The inmates claim in their request Wednesday that such a compressed schedule "is contrary to the evolving standards of decency".

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"In its efforts to "enforce the law" Arkansas has ridden roughshod over private companies' legal agreements and the interests of Arkansas patients, and today's ruling shows this will not pass unchallenged".

Inmates Bruce Ward (top row L to R), Don Davis, Ledell Lee, Stacy Johnson, Jack Jones (bottom row L to R), Marcel Williams, Kenneth Williams and Jason Mcgehee are shown in these booking photo provided.

The state of Arkansas - which hasn't executed an inmate since 2005 - has scrambled to orchestrate a string of executions before its supply of midazolam, a controversial sedative, expires at the end of April. A third man has received a stay from a federal judge over issues with his clemency schedule. Griffin said he did tell Jenkins.

The first two inmates scheduled for execution on Monday were spared - one of them when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reverse an Arkansas Supreme Court order minutes before his death warrant expired.

The state described the inmates' challenge as a last-minute delay that would "manipulate the judicial process". The next executions are scheduled for Thursday.

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The state's response detailed the killings that sent the men to death row and argued that justice has been denied to the victims' loved ones.

"It is understandable that the inmates are taking every step possible to avoid the sentence of the jury; however, it is the court's responsibility to administer justice and bring conclusion to litigation", he said in a statement to the AP.

Arkansas officials have said they are unable to obtain the necessary drug from any other source, and have acknowledged in court papers that should McKesson prevail, all pending executions would be effectively blocked.

The state has not held an execution in 12 years.

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