AR Supreme Court Grants Stay of Execution for Inmate Stacey Johnson

That leaves five men set for execution in an eight-day period starting Thursday. In this Monday evening, April 17, 2017 photo, the sun sets behind clouds over an Arkansas State Police command post outside the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction near Varner. Anti-death penalty supporters Abraham Bonowitz, left, and Randy Gardner wait near their taped off "protest corral" outside the Varner Unit late Monday, April 17, 2017 near Varner, Ark. Anti-death penalty supporter Randy Gardner, right, embraces Abraham Bonowitz, left, after they read on his phone the 11:45 p.m., decision to halt the execution in their taped off "protest cor".

Arkansas officials vowed to carry out a double execution later this week after the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a setback to the state's plan to resume capital punishment for the first time in almost 12 years by refusing to lift an order sparing an inmate just minutes before his death warrant expired. The minority opinion was clear in its dissent, but I know the families of the victims are anxious for a clear-cut explanation from the majority as to how they came to this conclusion and how there appears to be no end to the court's review.

But the state is pressing ahead with its efforts to put the men to death in back-to-back lethal injections Thursday night at its Cummins Unit in the town of Grady, about 75 miles southeast of Little Rock.

On Friday, a different Pulaski County judge issued a similar ruling on vecuronium bromide.

McKesson said that ADC is a long time customer of the company and for most of the relationship, the ADC largely bought medical surgical supplies and other related items. Johnson's attorneys have sought more DNA testing that they say could exonerate him.

The court ruled that Stacey Johnson could pursue his requests for enhanced DNA testing in hopes of proving his innocence in the 1993 rape and killing of Carol Heath. Arkansas had initially scheduled eight inmates to die over an 11-day period in April - the fastest pace of executions in decades. Another ruling Wednesday could scuttle the entire schedule. They include Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, who are set for execution Thursday night.

In the drug case, a state prison official testified that he deliberately ordered the drug past year in a way that there wouldn't be a paper trail, relying on phone calls and text messages.

"McKesson was duped. into providing the drugs", lawyer John Tull said, arguing the company could see its reputation and bottom line suffer.

McKesson Corp., a San Francisco-based medical supply company, "claimed that the state deliberately circumvented them to use the drugs for executions". Griffin said he did tell Jenkins. In text messages from Jenkins' phone, there is no mention that the drug would be used in executions.

The state described the inmates' challenge as a last-minute delay that would "manipulate the judicial process". "Here, as a result of decades of strategic litigation, justice has always been denied to (the inmates') victims and their loved ones".

That means that death row inmates could seem unresponsive but actually feel like they're suffocating after the second drug, a paralytic, is introduced.

In a separate action on Tuesday, lawyers for all eight inmates filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt all the executions on issues including drug protocols and access to counsel.

Two executions are set for Thursday, followed by another double execution Monday and a single execution April 27. The State of Arkansas also argued that granted this restraining order would essentially cause a stay of execution, which the state said Judge Gray didn't have the authority to do. A federal judge this month halted the last of the executions. On Tuesday, a state judge denied the DNA test for Lee. Attorneys for the inmate filed a request Wednesday for a stay with the state's highest court.

Two more inmates - Don Davis and Bruce Ward - were scheduled to be executed this past Monday, April 17, but were not. There are no current stays blocking those executions, but both inmates have pending court challenges. The reporting on these drugs shows that all three drugs used in Arkansas' lethal injection cocktail are implicated in legal battles. The remaining six could still theoretically be put to death this month, though two of those inmates have received stays that the state hasn't yet appealed.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressed frustration with the repeated legal hurdles, and in a statement Wednesday night criticized the state Supreme Court, which has voted 4-3 on the death penalty cases.

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