Courts Halt Arkansas Multiple Execution Plan

State running out of time for 7 executions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2017 6:30 AM CDT
Courts Halt Arkansas Multiple Execution Plan
This undated photo provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows Bruce Earl Ward, who was scheduled for execution April 17, 2017.   (Arkansas Department of Correction, via AP File)

Arkansas' goal of executing seven inmates in 11 days before its supply of lethal injection drugs expires may be a dead plan walking after two court rulings Friday. In the first ruling, the state Supreme Court temporarily stayed the execution of convicted killer Bruce Earl Ward, NPR reports. Attorneys for Ward, who was due to be executed Monday night, argued that he is a diagnosed schizophrenic who doesn't understand the punishment or the reason why. A second ruling, from Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen, put the remaining six executions on hold by blocking the state's use of its supply of the execution drug vercomium bromide, the AP reports. The drug's maker, McKesson Medical Surgical, said it had been misled by the state.

In its lawsuit, McKesson said Arkansas ordered the drug using a license that only allowed it to obtain drugs for legitimate medical purposes. The company said it asked for the drug back when it learned it would be used for executions, but though Arkansas agreed to return its supply and was granted a refund, it never returned the drug, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. The makers of the other two drugs in the state's three-drug lethal injection cocktail have also gone to court. On Friday, Johnny Depp joined former death row inmate Damien Echols in a rally against the executions at the Capitol in Little Rock, KTHV reports. Echols was freed in 2011 after spending 18 years on death row, (More Arkansas stories.)

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