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This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams.
This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams.
Image: AP/PA Images

US state of Arkansas executes two prisoners in one night

This is the first time in 17 years in the US that a state has executed two people in the space of 24 hours.
Apr 25th 2017, 6:45 AM 19,075 45

THE SOUTHERN STATE of Arkansas, rushing to execute several inmates before a lethal drug expires next week, put to death two inmates late on Monday, the first double execution in the United States in 17 years.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, both sentenced to death in the 1990s, were executed by lethal injection after higher courts rejected their final legal appeals.

Arkansas had planned to put eight convicted murderers to death in 11 days — a record, had it been carried out — but four have won reprieves.

Jones, 52, was executed after the US Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request from his attorneys asking justices to reconsider a procedural issue from his trial.

Williams, 46, died hours later after his appeals were exhausted. His lawyers had filed a string of last-minute challenges, which included allegations that Jones suffered unnecessarily because he was executed improperly, and that Williams was so obese that it would be hard to find a proper vein for the lethal injection.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has said the accelerated execution timetable was necessary as the state’s stock of a sedative used in lethal injections will expire at the end of the month.

Rutledge said in a separate statements that the family and friends of the victims had “seen justice carried out”.

Legal clashes

The execution process began  shortly after midnight Irish time and Jones was pronounced dead nearly 20 minutes later, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper cited Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves as saying.

Jones was calm as he made a rambling final statement while strapped to the gurney, saying he tried to become a better person and apologising to Lacey, a daughter of Jones’s victim, 34-year-old Mary Phillips, the paper said, citing media witnesses in the death chamber.

Arkansas Executions There have been a number of protests against the death penalty. Source: Kelly P. Kissel/PA

Last minute appeals had delayed the execution, which had been scheduled for one hour after Jones’s execution.

Last week, on Thursday, Ledell Lee was put to death in the state’s first execution in more than a decade.

Many of the legal clashes over Arkansas’s plan focus on use of the drug midazolam, a sedative meant to render a condemned person unconscious before other drugs induce death.

Critics say it does not always adequately sedate prisoners, potentially causing undue suffering.

And McKesson Medical-Surgical, a distributor for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, had asked courts to ban the use of a paralytic it sells, vecuronium bromide, in the chemical cocktail used to kill prisoners.

Arkansas has scheduled another execution for 27 April.

The last US state to execute two convicts in one night was Texas in August 2000.

© AFP 2017

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