Arkansas Executions 2017

An Arkansas judge who blocked the state's executions the same day he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration is asking two state panels to investigate the attorney general's office and the state Supreme Court for his removal from considering any capital punishment cases.

Solomon Graves Department of Correction
Bobby Ampezzan / Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas has a practice of cutting off witness access to an audio feed in the state’s death chamber after the soon to be executed inmate’s opportunity to give last words. After lethal injection drugs are administered witnesses have to rely only on sight to evaluate an execution. The state is the sole audial observer once the execution begins.

Arkansas executed two men in one night this week, and there is a dispute about how it went. Attorneys for the first man executed Monday, Jack Jones, say he gasped for air as he died. Media witnesses say they simply saw Jones’ lips moving. None of the execution witnesses were allowed to hear Jones’ sounds.

Andrew DeMillo, an Associated Press reporter who witnessed Jones’ execution, reported back to other journalists at the prison that Jones’ lips had moved during the lethal injection process.

Arkansas Death Chamber Lethal Injection
Arkansas Department of Correction

The nation's first double execution in 16 years is raising a new issue involving transparency and the death penalty: Should witnesses be allowed to hear what goes on in the death chamber?

A lawyer who watched Monday's executions in Arkansas says he saw an inmate open his mouth several times when it should have been still. That prompted another lawyer to claim in a court filing that Jack Jones was gulping for air after receiving a sedative, the first component of a lethal injection.

Other witnesses did not see it that way. An open microphone could have settled the question.

10:39 Update:

An ADC spokesman says Marcel Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. The procedure began at 10:16. 

A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction declared that Jack Jones was executed Monday night by lethal injection. His execution began at 7:06 p.m. and he was declared dead at 7:20 p.m.

"He was covered in a sheet with his arms extended," said media witness, Andrew DeMillo, from the Associated Press. DeMillo noted Jones' lips continued moving for several minutes after the execution began though witnesses were not able to hear sound from the execution chamber.

Jack Jones
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas has executed inmate Jack Jones by lethal injection, the first of what would be the only double-execution in the U.S. since 2000.

Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Monday at the state's Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. Barring any last-minute stays, inmate Marcel Williams will be executed later Monday.

Jones was sent to death row for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

A condemned Arkansas inmate is again asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to stop his execution, arguing that his previous attorney plagiarized a court filing.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to stop Marcel Williams' execution, one of two planned for Monday night. In a late afternoon court filing, Williams asked justices for a stay of execution so he can argue claims that his prior attorneys were ineffectual.

The court filing says that nearly 10 pages of an earlier appeal "was cut and pasted verbatim from a 1961 United States Supreme Court case."

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Jack Jones and Marcel Williams
Arkansas Department of Correction

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected requests for stays of execution from two inmates set to die in the nation's first double execution since 2000.

Jack Jones Jr. and Marcel Williams had asked the state's highest court to stop their executions, which are set for Monday night. Arkansas is trying to use a sedative that expires at the end of the month, and if the men don't receive lethal injections as scheduled their executions will be off indefinitely.

The state has said it has no new source for midazolam.

Jack Jones
Arkansas Department of Correction

A federal appeals court has rejected an Arkansas inmate's request for a stay of execution for the rape and killing of a woman more than two decades ago.

Jack Jones Jr. says his lethal injection could be cruel and unusual because he is diabetic and overweight. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request Monday, hours before his scheduled execution.

Jones was convicted of raping and strangling Mary Phillips at a Bald Knob accounting office on June 6, 1995.

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