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The Latest: Courts delay Arkansas execution another hour

April 21, 2017
Associated Press

VARNER, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas' efforts to carry out executions before the end of April (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Courts have delayed for another hour the execution of an Arkansas inmate set to die Thursday night.

Justice Samuel Alito issued a temporary stay until 8:30 p.m. CDT as the Supreme Court considers Ledell Lee's requests for a stay, while the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a separate temporary stay until 9:15 p.m. Thursday as it considers a separate appeal.

Lee's attorneys have filed a flurry of appeals in hopes of stopping his execution, which would be Arkansas' first in nearly a dozen years.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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8:05 p.m.

An inmate facing execution in Arkansas on Thursday night has filed more emergency appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his lethal injection.

Attorneys for Ledell Lee filed the requests late Thursday. Earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeals in separate cases.

A federal appeals court has issued a temporary stay until 8:15 p.m. as it considers another of Lee's appeals.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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7:30 p.m.

A divided Supreme Court has rejected appeals that would have put off the execution of Arkansas inmate Ledell Lee.

More appeals to the high court were possible Thursday night.

The four liberal justices dissented from a court order late Thursday that would not only have stopped Lee's execution, but also three more the state intends to carry out before the end of the month. That's when its supply of a key execution drug expires. New justice Neil Gorsuch voted with the majority of five to deny the stay of execution sought by Lee and the other inmates.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he was troubled that the main reason for wanting to proceed with the executions was the looming expiration of the drug midazolam.

Breyer asked, "Why these eight? Why now?"

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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7 p.m.

A federal appeals court has delayed an Arkansas inmate's execution for at least an hour to review his request to stop his lethal injection scheduled for Thursday night.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed Ledell Lee's execution until 8:15 p.m. Thursday as it reviews his appeal.

Lee had been set for execution at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Lee's execution would be Arkansas' first since 2005.

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6:05 p.m.

A federal appeals court has rejected a request to issue execution stays for a group of Arkansas inmates, including one scheduled for lethal injection Thursday night.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected requests from the inmates, who had challenged the clemency process they underwent after Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled eight executions to take place over an 11-day period.

Those challenging the policy include Ledell Lee, who is scheduled for execution Thursday night. He has other legal challenges pending but there are no stays in place that would stop his execution, which would be Arkansas' first since 2005.

Arkansas set the compressed timetable because one of its lethal injection drugs expires April 30. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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5:45 p.m.

A state prison official says an Arkansas inmate set for execution Thursday night declined a last meal and instead received communion.

Inmate Ledell Lee is scheduled for execution at the Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. There are no stays blocking his execution, but he has several legal challenges pending.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says Lee received communion Thursday afternoon instead of having a last meal.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of a lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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5:40 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied another stay request from a condemned killer facing execution Thursday night.

Justices on Thursday denied the request to halt the planned execution of Ledell Lee. Lee and Stacey Johnson had been scheduled to die Thursday night, but the state canceled plans to execute Johnson in the face of legal challenges. Lee has at least one stay request pending in a federal appeals court.

The ruling was the third stay request for Lee denied by the Arkansas Supreme Court Thursday.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of another lethal injection drug expires. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put at least one other in doubt.

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5:20 p.m.

Arkansas says one of two executions scheduled for Thursday night won't go ahead

The Arkansas attorney general's office says it won't appeal an order halting the execution of Stacey Johnson.

The decision by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to not appeal Johnson's stay leaves only one inmate facing execution Thursday night. The state Supreme Court has denied two stay requests from Ledell Lee, but his attorneys are fighting on other fronts in state and federal court to halt his execution.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of another lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put some of the others in doubt.

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4:50 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't reconsider its decision to halt the execution of an inmate the state planned to put to death Thursday night.

In a 4-3 ruling, justices denied the state's motion to reconsider the stay issued for Stacey Johnson. His execution was halted after his attorneys sought additional DNA tests they say could exonerate him.

It was unclear whether the state would appeal Johnson's stay to the U.S. Supreme Court. Arkansas had planned to execute Johnson and Ledell Lee Thursday night. Lee is fighting in federal and state courts for a similar stay.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of another lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.

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4:15 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is allowing the state to use a lethal injection drug in upcoming executions, despite a supplier's complaint that it was sold to the state to be used only for inmates' medical care.

Justices on Thursday lifted a judge's order preventing the state from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in Arkansas' lethal injection protocol. McKesson Corp., a medical supply company, said the state misleadingly bought the drug and that it wasn't intended for executions.

The ruling clears one of the main legal hurdles the state faces in its effort to carry out two executions Thursday night. A stay remains in place for one of the inmates on an unrelated issue. Arkansas has not put an inmate to death since 2005.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of another lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.

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2:30 p.m.

Two pharmaceutical companies that have said they don't want their drugs used in Arkansas' executions are asking to intervene in the court fight over whether the state can use a third lethal injection drug.

Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. asked Thursday to file a friend of the court brief urging the court to uphold an order preventing Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the lethal injection process. A supplier has said it sold the drug to Arkansas to be used for medical purposes, not executions.

The companies have said they believe they manufactured the other two drugs Arkansas has for the executions, which are set for Thursday night.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.

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2 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected a stay request from an inmate as it seeks to hold its first executions since 2005, though another court decision has all executions scheduled in the state on hold.

Justices on Thursday rejected a stay request from Ledell Lee. Their one-paragraph order did not elaborate on why.

Lee is one of two inmates who had been set to die Thursday night.

A judge in Little Rock has blocked the state from using one of the drugs in Arkansas' execution protocol because a company says the state misled it into providing the drug for lethal injections.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of a different lethal injection drug expires. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions.

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12:45 p.m.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas have started their appeal of a decision that would prevent its executioners from using one of the three drugs in its lethal injection protocol.

Circuit Judge Alice Gray has stopped the state's use of vecuronium bromide until she can determine the rightful owner. A drug supply company says Arkansas obtained the drug under false pretenses.

The judge filed her order Thursday after the state complained to the Arkansas Supreme Court that she was taking too much time. Once her order was in, the state filed a notice that it would appeal.

Arkansas originally scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.

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12:15 p.m.

Arkansas inmates set for a series of executions before the end of the month have filed a new request for stays.

In court papers filed Thursday, they say any new judges assigned to their cases in a state court at Little Rock should have time to become familiar with their pleadings.

The state Supreme Court reassigned death penalty-related cases from a judge who went to an anti-death penalty rally after issuing an order last week barring the state from using one of its execution drugs.

Lawyers for the state have complained that the inmates and their lawyers are trying to run out the clock, as one of Arkansas' execution drugs expires at the end of April.

Arkansas originally scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period. The first two executions were canceled because of court decisions. Legal rulings have put the others in doubt.

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11:25 a.m.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas are trying to light a fire under a judge who has been slow to file written paperwork involving a death penalty case.

Circuit Judge Alice Gray on Wednesday ordered the state to not use one of its execution drugs in executions set for Thursday night and next week. She wants to hold a hearing later on who really owns them — the state of Arkansas or a medical supply company that says it mistakenly provided them to the state prison system.

Arkansas wants to appeal Gray's order, but needs a written order from her to do so. Its lawyers filed paperwork with the state Supreme Court on Thursday morning asking it to order her to submit a formal order.

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1 a.m.

An aggressive effort by the state of Arkansas to carry out its first executions since 2005 stalled for the second time this week as courts blocked two lethal injections planned for Thursday, prompting Gov. Asa Hutchinson to express frustration at legal delaying tactics.

While the latest court rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires.

The state originally set eight executions over an 11-day period in April, which would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. But Arkansas has faced a wave of legal challenges. Four of the eight have been granted stays of execution.

 
 

 

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