State obtains execution drugs, but another deadline looms

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 399 views 

The Arkansas Department of Correction has obtained a new supply of potassium chloride and can proceed with eight scheduled executions in April, assuming they happen then.

The state’s supply of potassium chloride, one of three drugs in a cocktail used in executions, had expired in January. One of the two other drugs, midazolam expires April 30, 2017, while the supply of vercuronium bromide expires March 31, 2018.

Midazolam is used to put the inmate to sleep, while vercuronium bromide causes paralysis and potassium chloride stops the heart.

Solomon Graves, public information officer and legislative liaison, said Monday the state had obtained the potassium chloride but no supplies of the other drugs.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set four execution dates in April for eight Arkansas inmates on death row whose appeals have been exhausted and whose cases the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear last week. Hutchinson scheduled the eight inmates to be put to death, all for capital murder, on the following dates:
• April 17, Don Davis, Bruce Ward
• April 20, Stacey Johnson, Ledelle Lee
• April 24, Marcel Williams, Jack Jones
• April 27, Jason McGehee, Kenneth Williams

The door to the executions was opened Feb. 21, when the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari regarding the state’s method of execution. The Arkansas Supreme Court earlier had ruled in the state’s favor in a case regarding Act 1096 of 2015 allowing makers of execution drugs to remain secret. Along with that ruling, the court had issued an injunction pending the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The inmates’ appeals have been exhausted, but other legal responses are still available, including clemencies that Hutchinson has given no indication he will provide.

Thirty-four men are on Arkansas’ death row. The last inmate executed was Eric Nance, for the rape and murder of Julie Heath of Malvern in 2005.