Arkansas asked to preserve execution evidence

Clockwise from top left Kenneth Williams Jack Jones Marcel Williams and Ledell Lee

Clockwise from top left Kenneth Williams Jack Jones Marcel Williams and Ledell Lee

Arkansas on Thursday night executed its fourth man in eight days, concluding its plan that called for eight prisoners to die by lethal injection before a key drug expires at the end of April.

In addition, three of the four black inmates originally scheduled for execution were killed, Clifton said, while three of the four white inmates originally slated for execution received stays by the courts.

Williams was sentenced to death in 2000 for fatally shooting a former deputy warden during his 1999 escape from prison, where he was serving a life sentence for killing a college cheerleader the previous year.

A motorist passes by the entrance to the Cummins Unit prison near Varner, Ark., on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

Kayla Greenwood told the newspaper that she learned just days before the execution that Williams had a daughter who had not seen him since she was a toddler, and that Johnson had a young daughter of her own.

During the execution, Williams expressed remorse in his final words.

"I could run no more".

Williams read a prepared final statement, apologizing to the families he "senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones".

Williams died at 11:05 p.m. local time.

The body jerked 15 times in quick succession, the AP reported, before moving five more times at a slower rate.

"Any amount of movement he might have had was far less than any of his victims", said Jodie Efird, one of Boren's daughters, who witnessed the execution.

An AP reporter present at Williams' death reported that he "lurched and convulsed on the gurney" as the drugs for his lethal injection were administered. Lethal injection drugs are increasingly hard to obtain, and Arkansas authorities say they are unsure if more can be obtained, leaving unclear when the next execution might occur in the state. Courts blocked the execution of the other four.

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Denno said the perceived issues in Thursday's execution of Kenneth Williams, who lurched and convulsed 20 times during the lethal injection, will also signal to drug companies that there might be issues in the state's protocol. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas also called for an investigation, arguing that the state may have violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. "This is very disturbing, but not at all surprising given the history of the risky sedative midazolam, which has been used in many botched executions". Lee's case saw new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch cast his first vote. The court denied all the motions.

Autopsies are conducted on executed inmates, but final reports will not be done for four to six weeks, according to the chief medical examiner for the Arkansas State Crime Lab.

In June, the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals plans to hear a challenge by OH death row inmates of the state's new three-drug method, which inmates say could lead to a substantial risk of harm. They had committed murders in the 1990s.

He is the fourth death row inmate and last to be executed over a 7-day span.

At the state's request, the full appeals court agreed to review the case after a three-judge panel rejected the method as unconstitutional.

Throssell, in response to a reporter's question, said: "Our concern is really the fact that these executions were scheduled because of the expiration date of the drug, and you are absolutely right that adds to the arbitrariness and cruelty of the whole process".

Manufacturers and European countries started withholding sodium thiopental and pentobarbital this decade, trying to prevent the use of them in executions.

It's unclear whether Arkansas will receive fresh midazolam supplies after its current batch expires.

Arkansas put four inmates to death this month.

Shawn Nolan was one of Kenneth Williams' attorneys who'd filed multiple requests to stop the Thursday night execution.

It continued for several minutes, Terrell said, from 10:55 pm to 10:59 pm, at which point it appeared he stopped breathing, or it was no longer noticeable.

Media witnesses say there was audible "coughing and jerking" even though the microphone inside death chamber was turned off. She said that while the sentence did not bring closure, it did help a little. Amnesty International denounced the unprecedented string of execution warrants as Arkansas' "conveyer belt of death".

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