Arkansas executed two convicted murderers on Monday night, the first time in almost 17 years that any state has executed two inmates on the same day, as the state carries out a series of capital punishments before one of its lethal injection drugs expires.
Jack H. Jones Jr. died at 7:20 p.m. local time, and Marcel Williams at 10:33 p.m., both from the injection of a three-drug combination, after a flurry of failed, last-ditch appeals. The executions in the death chamber at the Cummings Unit, a state prison southwest of Pine Bluff, came four days after the state put to death another killer, Ledell Lee. A fourth condemned man, Kenneth Williams, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
On Monday, the courts rejected a series of appeals by Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams, including an effort minutes before Mr. Williams’s execution, arguing it would be unconstitutionally cruel, based on complications Mr. Jones might have experienced. In a court filing, Mr. Williams’s lawyers wrote that infirmary workers had tried unsuccessfully to insert a central line in Mr. Jones’s neck for 45 minutes, before placing it elsewhere on his body. Then Mr. Jones gulped for air during the execution, the filing said, “evidence of continued consciousness.”
Media witnesses reported "coughing, convulsing, lurching, jerking" for a 10 to 20 second period during the execution of Kenneth Williams at the Cummins Unit, where the Arkansas death chamber is housed.
The allegations come amid questions around the use of the controversial lethal injection drug midazolam. The state's stocks of the drug were due to expire and it has been racing to execute a record number of inmates — Williams was the fourth to be executed inside of a week.
"This is the most I've seen an inmate move three or four minutes in," said Associated Press reporter Kelly Kissel, who witnessed his tenth execution Thursday night. Kissel explained that Williams "lurched" 15 times in quick succession, followed by five slower lurches, three minutes after the sedative midazolam was introduced.
Kissel said two other witnesses from local media organizations agreed with his assessment and also said that Williams could be heard after the microphone to the death chamber was turned off. Williams' attorney called for an investigation and called the descriptions "horrifying."Good times. Four down, four to go before the drugs expire on Sunday.
As I told my students, lost in this story is the unbelievable fact that these four killings so far, and the ones to come, are directly related to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Back in March I mentioned to them that it was astonishing Gorsuch didn't face one question re the death penalty during four days of testimony. Not even from the left.
While we get worked up about abortion, speech, or business-related areas where nominees may rule, almost no one ever asks about the death penalty anymore...and the fact remains the justices hear WAY more cases related to the death penalty than ANY other issue, combined.
And so what was the first vote that Anne Gorsuch Burford's kid cast his first week on the court? The fifth vote to lift the stay over Arkansas' gruesome desire to whack 8 inmates in a 10 day period. And poof, just like that, four people are dead, one apparently tortured, another mentally disabled. Well done, Neil, in your first week, in your stolen seat.
Elections have consequences, folks. And so too does refrigeration, expiration dates, and the desire to hurry people to their death simply because your drugs are passed the date on the bottle.
God I love Arkansas. Soooooie!