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Drug Company Files Another Lawsuit Against Arkansas Over Use Of Execution Drugs

Drug Company Files Another Lawsuit Against Arkansas Over Use Of Execution Drugs

Both men are scheduled for execution on April 20, 2017.

(Sherry Simon via AP).

McKesson filed a complaint April 18 in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking a restraining order and injunction to prevent the vecuronium it supplied from being used "for something other than a legitimate medical goal".

Check back with Arkansas Online for updates and read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details. People gather at a rally opposing the state's upcoming executions, on the front steps of Arkansas' Capitol, Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark.

Lee was convicted in the 1993 killing of his neighbor Debra Reese. Johnson's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, wants a court to order new DNA testing on hair found in the victim's apartment and on clothing that prosecutors found at a rest stop and linked to Johnson.

The motion, filed Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court, requests that Virginia-based McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.'s case be transferred to Faulkner County Circuit Court. If the state had moved ahead with its 11-day execution plan, it would have been the most inmates put to death by any state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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Arkansas worked with tight constraints to get U.S. Supreme Court approval to execute a convicted killer on Monday.

Chief deputy prosecuting attorney John Johnson, meanwhile, told the court that Lee had not presented sufficient evidence to support the need for further DNA testing.

"My job as governor is to work with the attorney general to make sure that justice is accomplished and the law of Arkansas is carried out, and that's what we're working every day to accomplish", he said.

Lawyers for the two men have asked Arkansas courts to halt the executions for DNA testing they say could prove their clients' innocence and to consider judicial shortcomings, including a previous trial lawyer for Lee who came to court drunk, was removed from the hearing and ordered to undergo a drug test.

While the latest court rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires. States around the country have struggled to obtain execution drugs over the last few years because of drug shortages and pressure from anti-death penalty groups, and the governor said he was unsure whether the state could refresh its supply.

A handful of drug companies are telling Arkansas that they don't want their products used to kill inmates.

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Originally, Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order against the state until it returned 10 vials of 20mg vecuronium bromide to McKesson. He is one of two inmates scheduled for execution Thursday.

Lee is also serving prison time for the rapes of a woman and teen from Jacksonville.

A 101-page order that a federal judge filed early Saturday to block the executions was reversed Monday by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The state attorney general's office says there are no current legal obstacles to executing Lee as scheduled.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson had set an aggressive schedule of eight executions by the end of April, when the state's supply of midazolam, a key lethal injection drug, expires.

And late on Monday, after inmate Don Davis ate what was supposed to be his "last meal" and just minutes before his execution, the US Supreme Court gave a last-minute ruling sparing him.

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Five inmates remain in line for the death chamber in the coming days, starting with Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee on Thursday in what would be the first dual executions carried out anywhere in the United States in 17 years. The next two are scheduled for Thursday.


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