Arkansas Executions 2017

Kenneth Williams
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas officials are dropping their effort to block a request for the records related to the autopsy of an inmate who lurched and convulsed 20 times during his execution.

The state Crime Lab on Tuesday filed a motion to withdraw its request to quash the subpoena issued by public defenders who are challenging the state's execution procedures and want records related to Kenneth Williams' death. Williams was executed on April 27.

Kenneth Williams
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas officials are asking a federal judge to block an effort to subpoena records related to the autopsy of an inmate who lurched and convulsed 20 times during his execution.

Kenneth Williams was put to death by lethal injection April 27.

The Arkansas State Crime Lab on Friday asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to quash the subpoena public defenders challenging the state's execution procedures had issued for detailed records related to Williams' death.

The Arkansas State Medical Board dropped a possible investigation Thursday into a Department of Correction-affiliated doctor’s role in obtaining a lethal injection drug.

The board was reviewing whether an ADC doctor might have used his license to help obtain a lethal injection drug from the McKesson Company.

McKesson sued the department in April, claiming a physician’s license on file had been used to purchase the drugs under false pretenses.

Board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer says the board ruled to drop the matter after finding no proof of the doctor’s involvement.

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

The Arkansas Medical Board isn't pursuing an investigation into how drugs used to execute four inmates in April were obtained.

The panel's attorney said Thursday that he found no evidence that any doctors licensed by the state were involved.

Board attorney Kevin O'Dwyer says he didn't find any evidence of a violation of the state's medical practices act by a licensed doctor. That's because no doctor was involved in obtaining the drugs used in the state's first executions in nearly 12 years.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The top two officials for a judicial ethics panel are recusing themselves from investigations involving an Arkansas judge who participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he issued an order that effectively blocked executions in the state.

The executive director and deputy director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Tuesday stepped away from the cases involving Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who lay on a cot outside the governor's mansion last month after blocking the state from using a lethal injection drug.

An Arkansas judge is asking a disciplinary panel to dismiss a complaint concerning his participation in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked executions.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen is calling the investigation an effort to punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights. In a filing Friday he said the demonstration didn't violate any judicial rules and was constitutionally protected.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, issued a statement on Monday calling for the Arkansas House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen.

“Because of his gross misconduct in office, I am calling for the Arkansas House of Representatives to bring an article of impeachment against Judge Wendell Griffen. He should never again be allowed to hold office of any sort in Arkansas. We as the General Assembly can remove the stain that Griffen has left on our judicial integrity,” Garner said in a prepared statement.

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says the earliest Arkansas could see a restart of the execution process is in mid-May when a stay of execution for Jason McGehee will expire. McGehee was one of four death row inmates whose executions in the most recent 8-person lethal injection schedule were not carried out due to last-minute legal challenges.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Brian Chilson-Williams / Arkansas Times

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday said he will limit next week’s special session primarily to items involving health care and he announced plans to cut the fiscal year budget by $70 million, while shoring up a long-term contingency fund. He also said that concerns over the most recent state execution, in which inmate Kenneth Williams “convulsed,” will be investigated by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, but no independent investigation is warranted.

“I see no reason for any investigation other than the routine review that is done after every execution,” Hutchinson said.

A spokesman for the governor, J.R. Davis, and a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, Soloman Graves, update the media on the status of the execution.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek

Arkansas has carried out its final execution for the month of April.

Eight death row inmates were scheduled to die in less than two weeks in Arkansas in four double executions. Ultimately, four inmates were executed, including one double execution.

Death row inmate Kenneth Williams, 38, was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m.  The lethal injection began at 10:52 p.m.

Williams' execution, which had been scheduled for 7 p.m., was on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed legal challenges. It ultimately denied all claims.

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