Arkansas Completes First Double Execution in 17 Years After Supreme Court Rejects Last-Minute Appeal

Eight executions were pushed by the state before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30

Photo: Arkansas Department of Correction via AP

Arkansas completed the nation’s first double execution since 2000 on Monday night after a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed.

The Associated Press reported the first inmate, Jack Jones, 52, was executed at 7:20 p.m. Attorneys for the second inmate, Marcel Williams, 46, convinced a federal judge to briefly delay the proceedings over concerns about how the earlier death was handled.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal by Williams’ legal team at 7:50 p.m. At 8:25 p.m. a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, temporarily halted Williams’ execution, but lifted the court order at 9:30 p.m.

Williams was strapped to the same gurney less than an hour later died from lethal injection at 10:33 p.m.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions were pushed by the state before its supply of a lethal injection drug expires on April 30.

Arkansas’ last double execution occurred in 1999.

The first three executions were canceled due to court decisions, but inmate Ledell Lee was executed last week.

Jones was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips, CNN reports. Williams was found guilty in 1994 for the murder of Stacy Errickson.

The Huffington Post reports Williams’ lawyers claimed in their petition for a stay of execution that corrections staff “tried unsuccessfully to place a central line in Mr. Jones’s neck for 45 minutes before placing one elsewhere on his body.”

The attorneys claimed Jones was “moving his lips and gulping for air” following the administration of the sedative midazolam.

Williams’ attorneys wrote in an earlier court filing that his “morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung).”

The office of the Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge denied the attorney’s claims and called the request for a stay “baseless.”

“The claim that Jones was moving his lips and gulping for air is unsupported by press accounts or the accounts of other witnesses,” Arkansas Deputy Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni wrote in a petition according to Huffington Post. “The drugs were administered to Jones at 7:06 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. There was no constitutional violation in Jones’ execution.”

Both men were served last meals on Monday afternoon. Jones ate fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, beef jerky bites, three candy bars, a chocolate milkshake and fruit punch. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, the AP reported.

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