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Arkansas moves forward with 4th lethal injection in 8 days

Friday, Apr 28, 2017,9:56 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Varner | Arkansas won approval from the nation’s highest court to execute its fourth inmate in eight days, allowing the state to wrap up an accelerated schedule of lethal injections that was set to beat the expiration date of one of the drugs.
The US Supreme Court rejected appeals from Kenneth Williams, allowing officials to proceed with plans to put the condemned killer to death. The state had initially held off on executing Williams, 38, who was scheduled to die at 7 pm, as officials awaited word from the high court. There were no dissents in the court’s orders.
Prison officials summoned media witnesses shortly after the court’s ruling was handed down. Williams’ death warrant expires at midnight.
Court filings yesterday afternoon followed two threads: that Arkansas executions this week were so flawed that there is little doubt Williams will suffer as he dies, and that he has an intellectual disability that would make him ineligible for execution.
Williams would be Arkansas’ fourth execution in eight days after not conducting one since 2005. Two of the men died in a double execution Monday, the nation’s first since 2000.
State officials have said the three executions already conducted of Ledell Lee, Jack Jones Jr. and Marcel Williams didn’t go awry.
And their lawyers told the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday that while tests showed Kenneth Williams might have “low average” intelligence, he didn’t cooperate fully with the doctors testing him. They also said Williams’ previous lawyers “unequivocally abandoned” a similar claim because testing showed he wasn’t intellectually disabled.
The 8th Circuit judges agreed and refused to stop the execution. Williams’ lawyers say he has sickle cell trait, lupus and brain damage, and that the combined maladies could subject him to an exceptionally painful execution in violation of the US Constitution.
Arkansas’ “one size fits all” execution protocol could leave him in pain after a paralytic agent renders him unable to move, they say.
“After the state injects Mr Williams with vecuronium bromide … most or all of the manifestations of his extreme pain and suffering will not be discernible to witnesses,” they wrote to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which rejected his request to stop the execution.
Also yesterday, Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project asked to file a brief with the US Supreme Court in support of Williams’ request, arguing that his claims of intellectual disability have not been fully explored.
The attorney general’s office described Williams’ appeal as “procedural gamesmanship” to put off the execution.