| LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 18
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., April 18 Arkansas' attorney
general and governor are vowing to pursue a series of executions
scheduled over the next two weeks even after the state's Supreme
Court halted the first two lethal injections hours before they
were to take place.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she will continue to
seek justice for the families of victims and pursue two
executions scheduled for Thursday, a pair set for April 24 and
one planned for April 27.
"I will continue to respond to any and all legal challenges
brought by the prisoners," she said in a statement late on
Monday. "The families have waited far too long to see justice,
and I will continue to make that a priority."
Rutledge's statement came moments after the U.S. Supreme
Court denied her request to vacate a stay issued by the Arkansas
Supreme Court on the execution that was scheduled on Monday for
Don Davis, sentenced to die for the 1990 slaying of Jane Daniel,
62, during a home burglary.
The legal fight in Arkansas, which last put someone to death
12 years ago, came after the number of U.S. executions fell to a
quarter-century low in 2016. Capital punishment in several
states was stymied by problems with lethal-injection drugs and
legal questions over their protocols.
Davis and fellow inmate Bruce Ward, both of whom have spent
more than 20 years on death row, were scheduled to die on Monday
night before the Arkansas Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision,
stayed the executions after their lawyers raised questions about
their mental competency.
Rutledge's office declined to challenge the stay ordered for
"While this has been an exhausting day for all involved,
tomorrow we will continue to fight back on last minute appeals
and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families," said
Governor Asa Hutchinson in a statement.
In a separate ruling on Monday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals in St. Louis overruled a lower court decision that
had blocked the state's original plan to put eight inmates to
On April 6, U.S. District Judge J.P. Marshall halted one of
the executions, saying the expedited schedule did not allow
proper time for considering clemency for inmate Jason McGehee,
who is one of the inmates set to die on April 27.
Critics have contended that Arkansas' rush to the death
chamber was reckless. The state has said it had to act quickly
because one of the drugs in its difficult-to-obtain lethal
injection mix, the valium-like sedative midazolam, expires at
the end of April.
Attorneys for the eight were likely to appeal the federal
appeals court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. They filed a
separate petition for stays on Monday with the U.S. Supreme
Court over a procedural matter.
The state also argued that U.S. District Judge Kristine
Baker abused her discretion on Saturday when she ruled about
potential harm from midazolam.
The drug has been used in flawed executions in Oklahoma and
Arizona. Critics contend it does not put a person in a deep
enough state of unconsciousness and should not be used in
In 2014, Oklahoma was the last state to try carrying out two
executions on the same night, an effort that went awry. Texas
conducted the last successful dual executions in the United
States in 2000.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee Editing
by Jeremy Gaunt.)