Arkansas Governor Backs Record Executions

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis rejected the request Thursday to halt the execution of Bruce Ward, saying she doesn't have the authority to issue a stay.

Fresenius Kabi said it believes it manufactured the potassium chloride, while West-Ward is believed to have made the state's supply of midazolam.

Attorneys for the state argue that Arkansas does not now have a source to purchase more of the drug from. The state reasoned that the fast pace was necessary because one of the lethal injection drugs, midazolam, will expire at the end of the month, and it is unclear when more would be available.

Attorneys for the state further argue, "Their guilt is beyond dispute, and Arkansas is entitled to carry out their lawful sentences without further, unwarranted delay". The Department of Correction, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office and the attorney general's office declined to comment on Thursday's filing by the companies.

The lawyers also noted that the European Union had strict regulations for products that can be used for capital punishment, meaning that Arkansas' actions could convince officials to reduce the supply of medicines for fear of indirectly abetting executions.

"We can only conclude Arkansas may have acquired this product from an unauthorised seller", a Fresenius Kabi spokesperson said. West-Ward's parent Hikma is based in London.

Hutchinson has toured the Cummins Unit prison, located in the small town of Grady, that will conduct the lethal injections and said the staff set to carry out the executions is experienced and practiced. In a statement on its website, Pfizer said a distributor had sold the drug to Arkansas without the company's knowledge. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker is considering whether the expedited schedule unconstitutionally impacts the inmates' access to effective legal counsel and increases the risk of error by the Department of Correction. "Arkansas prison officials announced last month they had obtained a new supply of potassium chloride, clearing the way for the executions to begin", according to the Associated Press.


Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 because of drug shortages and legal challenges. Arkansas would also become the first State in the U.S. to conduct seven executions over an 11-day period since the resumption of the use of the death penalty in 1977 in the USA, according to the EEAS.

Arkansas plans to kill eight prisoners in dual executions over 11 days from April 17, although a federal judge has halted one execution.

In a press release, the group said newer DNA testing has "never been performed" in Johnson's case and could potentially prove he is innocent of the crime he's been charged with.

Ward was convicted of murdering 18-year-old gas station employee Rebecca Doss in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1989. She was found only wearing a t-shirt.

A number of recent instances have been documented of prisoners who have been given midazolam writhing, gasping and struggling in agony for prolonged periods of time before dying.

On 6 April, the Arkansas parole board voted that Governor Hutchinson should commute the death sentence of Jason McGehee, who was scheduled to be executed on 27 April.

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