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Arkansas' multiple execution plan in limbo after rulings
15 April 2017, 11:52 | Clarence Schmidt
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Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order Friday preventing Arkansas from using the drug vecuronium bromide "until ordered otherwise by this Court,"according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, after the supplier told the court it was not sold to the state for executions". An eighth condemned inmate won a stay on Friday.
Protesters gather outside the state Capitol building on Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark., to voice their opposition to Arkansas' seven upcoming executions.
Earlier Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court blocked the execution of Bruce Ward.
A judge has blocked Arkansas from using one of three lethal injection drugs the U.S. state planned to use in a series of executions next week.
Midazolam - one part of the three-drug lethal injection "cocktail" - is set to expire at the end of April, and has been criticised as contributing to several botched executions in other states.
The state Supreme Court offered no comment in staying Ward's execution.
"The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions".
The Arkansas attorney general's office said the state would appeal the judge's ruling, which threatened to derail a plan that once called for eight executions over the course of 10 days. Local media outlets had tweeted photos and video of Griffen appearing to mimic an inmate strapped to a gurney at an anti-death penalty demonstration outside the Governor's Mansion Friday afternoon.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said Judge Griffen should not be hearing the case at all. The executions have been scheduled to start Monday night.
"Mr. Ward's severe and lifelong schizophrenia and delusions, such as seeing demon dogs at the foot of his bed, have left him incompetent for execution under the constitutional standard: He has no rational understanding of the punishment he is slated to suffer or the reason why he is to suffer it". Arkansas officials quickly vowed to fight the order at the state Supreme Court. Baker had not ruled by Friday evening. Mr Hutchinson said the state had to act before the end of April, when the state's supply of midazolam, an anesthetic, expired.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement released Thursday night that it sold vecuronium bromide to Arkansas' prison system believing it would be used for medical purposes. Instead, they give the power to director of the Department of Corrections to decide whether the department can execute someone or not.
But the state prison system "never disclosed its intended goal to us for these products", a lawyer for McKesson, Ethan M. Posner, wrote in a letter obtained by The New York Times.
"ADC (the Arkansas Department of Correction) personnel used an existing medical license, which is to be used only to order products with legitimate medical uses, and an irregular ordering process to obtain the vecuronium via phone order with a McKesson salesperson", the brief said. The inmates have filed a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal court to halt the executions. "But not with more killing".
The actor Johnny Depp appeared alongside Damien Echols, who spent almost 18 years on Arkansas' death row before he was freed in 2011 in a plea deal in which he maintained his innocence.
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"I didn't want to come back, but when I heard about the conveyor belt of death that the politicians were trying to set in motion, I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't come back and try to do something", said Echols, who now lives in NY.
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