| LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 17
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 17 Arkansas has not
called off its plans to begin an unprecedented series of
executions on Monday despite federal and state court rulings
that temporarily halted the lethal injections of eight death row
The orders by the various judges barred the state from
carrying out the executions, including two planned for Monday
But the state was hoping to win last-minute reversals of the
decisions for convicted murderers Don Davis and Bruce Ward and
was still preparing for the executions to go ahead, prisons
spokesman Solomon Graves told reporters. Each man has spent more
than 20 years on death row.
Arkansas, which has not held an execution in 12 years, had
planned to execute eight inmates over 11 days, the most of any
state in that short a time since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The state had set the expedited schedule because one of the
drugs in its difficult-to-obtain lethal injection mix, the
sedative midazolam, expires at the end of April.
Critics contend its rush to the death chamber was reckless
If carried out, Monday's back-to-back executions would begin
at 6 p.m. CDT (2300 GMT) at the state's Cummins Unit in Grady, a
small town about 75 miles (120 kim ) southeast of Little Rock,
the state capital.
But rulings by four judges have put the brakes on the
Arkansas plan, which has drawn challenges from inmates and from
drug companies claiming the prison system deceived them over
On April 6, U.S. District Judge J.P. Marshall halted one of
the eight executions, saying the expedited schedule did not
allow proper time for considering clemency for inmate Jason
McGehee. The state has not appealed that decision.
On Friday, the Arkansas Supreme Court halted Ward's
execution after lawyers for the inmate argued he was mentally
incompetent. The state has appealed.
Also on Friday, a state judge issued a temporary restraining
order barring the state from administering one of three drugs it
planned to use, vercuronium bromide.
On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted a
temporary injunction for all eight inmates that halted their
executions on grounds including that the state's protocols
violate U.S. constitutional protections against cruel and
unusual punishment. The state has appealed.
Baker also found that the state would deprive the inmates of
adequate counsel because prison officials allow only a single
lawyer to be present for any execution.
If the attorney had to rush out to file an emergency
petition, it would deprive the inmate of a lawyer to witness the
execution, Baker said.
(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing
by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)