Lawyers race to save seven Arkansas death row inmates from “execution by assembly line”
14 April 2017
Lawyers representing seven death row inmates scheduled to be executed over 11 days beginning next week are entering the final stage of their legal battle to stop the most concentrated bout of executions in modern US history.
If the attorneys should fail, prisoners Don Davis and Bruce Ward will be put to death by lethal injection on April 17. They will be followed by Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee, who are set to die on April 20. The following week, on April 24, Marcel Williams and Jack Jones will be put to death, followed by Kenneth Williams on April 27.
The Arkansas Parole Board voted 6-1 on April 5 to recommend clemency for an eighth inmate, Jason McGehee. The board heard testimony that McGehee’s lawyer at trial barely investigated the case, and that the jury never heard that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that he had experienced severe abuse as a child, leading him to use drugs and alcohol at a young age.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, has final say on McGehee’s case and he could still be put to death April 27. He also has final word on the fates of the other seven prisoners as well, and takes the parole board’s recommendations as advisory only. Hutchinson has not commented on McGehee’s case and has indicated he has no intention of stopping the other seven executions.
Arkansas is rushing to kill the inmates before its supply of the drug midazolam expires at the end of this month. Major drug manufacturers, including Pfizer and Teva, have stopped selling drugs for use in lethal injections, forcing states to turn to other sources, such as compounding pharmacies, which are loosely regulated.
Lawyers for nine death row…