Arkansas has executed an inmate for the first time in nearly a dozen years as part of its plan to execute several inmates before a drug expires April 30, despite court rulings that have already spared three men.
Ledell Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday. The 51-year-old Lee was given the death penalty for the 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, whom Lee struck 36 times with a tire tool.
Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions.
Two more inmates are set to die Monday, and one on April 27. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay.
Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says Lee did not make a final statement before his execution began at 11:44 p.m. Thursday. Graves says Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m., four minutes before his death warrant was due to expire.
It was the first time Arkansas has used the sedative midazolam, and the state plans at least three more executions next week before its supply of the drug expires.