Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Arkansas Supreme Court Grants Stay of Execution for Inmate Stacey Johnson

Arkansas Supreme Court Grants Stay of Execution for Inmate Stacey Johnson

This combination of undated photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Stacey E. Johnson, left, and Ledell Lee.

Two more executions are scheduled Thursday night.

In this Monday evening, April 17, 2017 photo, the sun sets behind.

A death row inmate scheduled to be executed in an Arkansas prison today was granted a stay by the highest court in the USA state hours before his lethal injection, his attorneys said.

McKesson is not arguing to stay the executions, Quattlebaum said repeatedly.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on April 15 issued a stay of Arkansas' scheduled executions in a 101-page ruling in a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal-injection protocol.

Judge Alice Gray ruled in favor of the drug distributor, McKesson Medical-Surgical Incorporated's claim that the state misled the company when the Arkansas Department of Correction purchased the drug, vecuronium bromide. The company says the Department of Correction used deceptive practices to obtain its vecuronium bromide.

Governor Asa Hutchinson set the unprecedented schedule due to one of the drugs in the state's lethal injection mix expiring at the end of the month.

In a press release, the group said newer DNA testing has "never been performed" in his case that could potentially prove his innocence.

It was unclear if Attorney General Leslie Rutledge would appeal the stay of execution for Johnson to the U.S. Supreme Court after the state lost an appeal to the high court on a case involving another inmate Monday night. One of the eight executions was stayed after judge listened to the parole board's suggestion of upholding the man's life sentence.

Testimony from both sides diverged on whether prison officials were forthright that they were ordering the drugs for use in an execution. A sixth inmate, Jason McGehee, received a stay in a different case.

In the drug case, a state prison official testified that he deliberately ordered the drug previous year in a way that there wouldn't be a paper trail, relying on phone calls and text messages. He said he didn't keep records of the texts, but a McKesson representative did.

"The secrecy is not created to protect the manufacturers, it is created to keep the manufacturers in the dark about misuse of their products", Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the paper. Griffin said he did tell Jenkins. In text messages from Jenkins' phone, which came up at Wednesday's court hearing, there is no mention that the drug would be used in executions.

The state described the inmates' challenge as a last-minute delay that would "manipulate the judicial process".

Two inmates are scheduled for execution Thursday night with three more executions planned for next week.

The state's response detailed the killings that sent the men to death row and argued that justice has been denied to the victims' loved ones.

Arkansas' attempt to carry out its first execution in almost 12 years wasn't thwarted by the type of liberal activist judge Republicans regularly bemoan here, but instead by a state Supreme Court that's been the focus of expensive campaigns by conservative groups to reshape the judiciary. A ninth death-row inmate who does not have a scheduled execution date also signed on to the request.

Two executions are set for Thursday, followed by another double execution Monday and a single execution April 27. Less often, it's the state that seeks permission to proceed after a lower court has blocked an execution. The average time between sentencing and execution for prisoners executed in 2013 topped 15 years, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Last week, Johnson's lawyer lodged a request for a DNA test to verify whether his client's protestations of innocence were founded. Outside groups and the candidates spent more than $1.6 million a year ago on a pair of high court races that were among the most fiercely fought judicial campaigns in the state's history.

Johnson was convicted of the 1993 murder and sexual assault of Carol Heath.

Like this: