Arkansas Crime

An assistant attorney general says the company that sold Arkansas execution drugs had contracts with manufacturers prohibiting the chemicals from being sold for use in death penalty cases, but made a deal anyway because a new state law ensured it would remain anonymous.

Attorneys challenging Arkansas' execution secrecy law are asking a judge to rule on their constitutional concerns before ruling on whether to issue a protective order to shield the drug makers' identity.

The attorneys for nine death row inmates filed the motion Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Arkansas officials last week asked Judge Wendell Griffen to issue a protective order shielding the state from releasing the drug information or limiting the disclosure to the inmates' attorneys.

Arkansas' highest court has upheld the conviction and life sentence of a Little Rock man in the 2013 killing of a restaurant manager during a robbery at a mall.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the capital murder, attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery convictions of Deonte Edison.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says a lower-court judge overstepped his jurisdiction by halting the executions of eight death row inmates, but then granted its own stay so the inmates have enough time to challenge a state law that shields the source of death penalty drugs from the public.

The justices issued the ruling Tuesday, granting the state's request to toss out a stay granted this month by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. But justices also immediately granted their own stay.

Stacey Eugene Johnson
Arkansas Department Of Correction

One of eight Arkansas death row inmates whose executions were stayed by a circuit court is asking the Arkansas Parole Board for clemency.

Stacey Eugene Johnson's defense attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, told the board Thursday that Johnson may be innocent and his sentence should be commuted to life without parole.

Johnson was convicted in the 1993 death of Carol Heath, who was killed while her two young children were home.

A man accused of shooting at people trying to escape a burning house in Helena-West Helena has been arrested.

According to police, a 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday and is being held on a $1 million bond. He faces 12 counts of attempted first-degree murder, arson and illegal possession of a firearm.

Authorities say occupants reported the back of the home had been set on fire on Sept. 23. Police say as people tried to exit the home through the front door, two men dressed in dark clothing shot at them, forcing them back inside.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas have filed notice that they will appeal a lower court judge's temporary restraining order that halted eight planned executions scheduled to begin next week.

Power Lines

Thanks to a multimillion dollar award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Arkansas will lead a new national center that will focus on upgrading and protecting the nation’s energy grid from cyber-attacks.

University officials said the new educational venture is made possible by a $12.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, augmented by $3.3 million in matching funds from research partners.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen has ordered the state to disclose the contents of its three drug lethal injection mixture before proceeding with eight executions.

While state law allows the drugs’ names be withheld, attorneys for the inmates argue secrecy hampers their ability to challenge a potentially cruel and unusual form of punishment.  

University of Arkansas Bowen School of Law professor Angela Epps says the case may go before the state supreme court.

Melissa McCann-Arms
Arkansas Department Of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after giving birth to a baby with methamphetamine in his system.

The court handed down the decision Thursday for 39-year-old Melissa McCann-Arms. She and her son tested positive for the drug after she gave birth in 2012. She was convicted of a felony crime called introduction of controlled substance into body of another person.