Double execution in Arkansas first in USA since 2000


The state of Arkansas executed two men, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, late last night (24 April 2017) - the first double execution in the USA for 17 years. The state pronounced Williams dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the execution began.

He had been convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he had kidnapped at an Arkansas gas station.

But Monday night's double execution - the first in the United States since August 2000 - has aroused little visible emotion in USA political circles, and even less in the broader public.

Williams' attorneys briefly stalled the man's execution after they raised concerns about how the prior execution was carried out. At 8:25 p.m. a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, temporarily halted Williams' execution, but lifted the court order at 9:30 p.m.

Williams' attorneys said in an emergency filing late Monday that it took 45 minutes for prison staff to place an IV into Jones, possibly because of his overweight frame.

Williams weighed 400 pounds, and his attorneys had argued that his lethal injection could cause excessive pain because of his health.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had initially scheduled four double executions over an 11-day span in April, but a slew procedural hurdles forced the state to change course.

The initial eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The Supreme Court blocked four of the rushed executions, the Times reports.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves said that the lip movement was Jones apologizing and thanking department director, Wendy Kelley. Last year, there were 20 executions. He gave a lengthy last statement, with his final words: "I'm sorry". He is on heavy doses of drugs they say could prevent the lethal injection drug midazolam from working and lead to a "tortuous death".

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In a series of tweets sent out as Jones faced death, Prejean used research compiled by the Fair Punishment Project to describe the inmate's past.

Gina Grimm, daughter of inmate Jack Jones, touches a poster of those condemned to be executed outside the Varner Unit on Monday, April 24, 2017 near Varner, Ark. He was also connected to two other rapes.

Jones was convicted in the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips, a 34-year-old mother, in front of her 11-year-old daughter, Lacy, and the attempted murder of the girl. Both men had been found guilty of violent rape and murder of women, though their attorneys argued not enough had been done to defend both men during their trials, nor bring up pertinent evidence about their mental state and background which might have spared them the death penalty.

In a letter earlier this month, Jones said he was ready to be killed by the state. Two other drug companies, Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, filed a brief in the inmates' lawsuit arguing contracts prohibit their products from being used in executions. There were questions as to whether or not Jones' execution was painless and humane.

One of the eight inmates, convicted murderer Ledell Lee, was put to death Thursday. "He was showing signs of consciousness, of movement, up until at least three minutes before they declared him dead".

When those appeals reach the Supreme Court, they go first to the justice who oversees the state in which the execution is scheduled.

He did not request a clemency hearing, saying in a letter, "Your wish is and always has been that I die and I could never ever deny you this".

"He said, 'Wendy, you know how I feel about you, ' and to the executioner, 'No man should ever have to do this, '" Kelley recounted.

Williams did not have any last words. "As far as we could tell, the inmate was not having any trouble throughout it. ..."