News

The Arkansas Supreme Court is allowing the state to use a lethal injection drug in upcoming executions, despite a supplier's complaint that it was sold to the state to be used only for inmates' medical care.

Justices on Thursday lifted a judge's order preventing the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in Arkansas' lethal injection protocol. McKesson Corp., a medical supply company, said the state misleadingly bought the drug and that it wasn't intended for executions.

Varner Arkansas Department of Correction Cummins Prison
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

UPDATE 11:30 p.m.: The Department of Correction reversed its policy without explanation and media witnesses will be able to take notes during the execution of Ledell Lee this hour.

ORIGINAL POST: If courts do end up giving the go-ahead on Arkansas’s execution plans, media will have less rights to document the execution than just about anywhere else in the nation. Three members of the media are allowed by the state to witness an execution but officials are banning the use of paper and pencil to take notes – forcing reporters to rely solely on memory.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas have started their appeal of a decision that would prevent its executioners from using one of the three drugs in its lethal injection protocol.

Circuit Judge Alice Gray has stopped the state's use of vecuronium bromide until she can determine the rightful owner. A drug supply company says Arkansas obtained the drug under false pretenses.

The judge filed her order Thursday after the state complained to the Arkansas Supreme Court that she was taking too much time. Once her order was in, the state filed a notice that it would appeal.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas inmates set for a series of executions before the end of the month have filed a new request for stays.

In court papers filed Thursday, they say any new judges assigned to their cases in a state court at Little Rock should have time to become familiar with their pleadings.

The state Supreme Court reassigned death penalty-related cases from a judge who went to an anti-death penalty rally after issuing an order last week barring the state from using one of its execution drugs.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted one of two executions set for Thursday, saying the condemned inmate should have a chance to prove his innocence with more DNA testing.

Stacey Johnson claims that advanced DNA techniques could show that he didn't kill Carol Heath, a 25-year-old mother of two, in 1993 at her southwest Arkansas apartment.

In a 4-3 ruling late Wednesday afternoon, the state's highest court issued a stay for Johnson and ordered a new hearing in lower court for Johnson to make his claims.

clintonschool.uasys.edu

As the first 100 days of the of Donald Trump’s presidency draw to an end, Arkansas’s Junior U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton fielded questions about the chief executive and the new administration for about an hour on Wednesday.

Cotton appeared with Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford at the Robinson Center in Little Rock. When asked about Trump’s proposed budget, which dramatically reduces funding for a number of government programs and departments, Cotton said Congress is unlikely to implement it line by line.

U.S. Supreme Court
Wikipedia

A group of Arkansas inmates is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block upcoming executions in the state, citing concerns with one of the lethal injection drugs.

The request was filed Wednesday by the eight inmates for whom Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled execution dates this month. A ninth death-row inmate who does not have a scheduled execution date also signed on to the request.

The Little Rock Board of Directors voted 7-1 Tuesday night in favor of a resolution to support extending a 12.4 mill tax to fund Little Rock schools. An election on the millage extension will be held on May 9.

An Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration after issuing an order blocking the state's executions is defending the move, saying his ruling was guided by property law and not his views on capital punishment.

Lawyers for Arkansas inmates condemned to die Thursday in a planned double execution are claiming they are innocent and one of them says advanced DNA techniques could show he didn't kill a woman in 1993.

Their strategy to win stays is in marked contrast to the first two inmates who faced the death chamber and were spared Monday by arguing they should not be put to death because of mental health issues.

Pages