Arkansas Death Penalty News

Started by Jeff1857, October 03, 2007, 01:05:28 PM

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I'm curious if this will happen, this schedule will prompt resistance fore sure out of every corner
Born in Berlin, American at heart

Grinning Grim Reaper

Arkansas parole board suggests mercy for 1 of 8 inmates set to die in double-executions

 Arkansas' parole board is suggesting that Gov. Asa Hutchinson extend mercy to one of eight inmates scheduled to die in a series of double executions this month.

 The Republican governor is not bound by the board's recommendation Wednesday that he spare Jason McGehee's life. The 40-year-old inmate was convicted of killing a teenager who had told police about a theft ring operating in far northern Arkansas.

 The state has adopted an unprecedented execution schedule with its plan to put eight men to death in a 10-day period. Only Texas has executed that many inmates in a month, doing it twice in 1997.

In a separate decision, the board says a petition by Kenneth Williams was without merit. Williams was condemned after escaping and killing a man who lived near the prison.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

The Republican governor is not bound by the board's recommendation Wednesday that he spare Jason McGehee's life.

According to prosecutors, McGehee was the leader of a group of friends who lived together in a house in Harrison and survived by cashing stolen and forged checks. On Aug. 19, 1996, he sent Melbourne, the youngest of the group, into Harrison to cash a stolen check, but the boy attracted suspicion and was taken into questioning by police. Authorities say Melbourne told officers about stolen property at the house and police released him into his father's custody.

The three men later lured the boy to the house and beat him, then bound his hands and took him to an abandoned house in Omaha, Ark., where they beat him again, cut him and burned him, according to prosecutors. McGehee and two others took turns strangling him until he died, prosecutors said.

"The evidence at trial showed that McGehee was the ringleader of a torture murder and that his younger, weaker victim was brutalized because he told the truth when confronted by police," the 8th Circuit's opinion said. "McGehee inflicted most of the blows during the several hours in which Melbourne was tortured, and he exhibited no hesitation or remorse, apparently laughing just after he had left Melbourne's naked body lying in the woods."

Mercy?  Mercy for this worthless POS?  Not if Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to be reelected.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


A previous article says the number and speed of the executions are a "concern for some."  Exactly who are these someone's?  The criminals?  ACLU types?  Bleeding hearts?  I, for one, say good for Arkansas.   At this point, I would be happy if CA would just off one inmate. 
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money - Margaret Thatcher
The most terrifying words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

Grinning Grim Reaper

Arkansas Supreme Court refuses stays of two executions

 The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a batch of orders today related to appeals from Death Row inmates. They included cursory denials of stays of execution for Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, both scheduled to die April 20. The men have exhausted standard appeals, but are continuing post-conviction relief proceedings.

 Lee, convicted of the fatal beating of Debra Reese of Little Rock, has alleged incompetence of counsel in an earlier proceeding. Johnson, convicted of the fatal beating of Carol Heath of DeQueen, insists he's innocent and is seeking DNA testing.

 Though a variety of actions are pending at the state level, major contests are pending in federal court over the execution process and a shortening of the clemency process to allow for eight executions in 10 days before a supply of an anesthetic used in the killing expires. Six inmates have clemency applications pending and the state Parole Board has recommended clemency in one case. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has decided none of these yet.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Judge blocks execution of 1 of 8 Arkansas inmates

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A judge on Thursday stopped one of eight Arkansas executions set for this month, but at least six remain on course despite the judge's finding that the state broke some of its rules while handling clemency requests.

 U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. put on hold the execution of Jason McGehee, one of eight inmates who was set to die in an unprecedented series of double executions this month.

 Marshall said the inmate was entitled to a 30-day comment period after the Arkansas Parole Board told Gov. Asa Hutchinson that his clemency request had merit. The 30-day period started Wednesday and will not expire until after Arkansas' supply of a key execution drug expires April 30.

 The judge rejected stay requests from five other inmates, despite what he said was "at times shoddy" work at the Parole Board office as the state crunched its timetable for clemency hearings after Hutchinson set four double executions to occur from April 17-27.

 Marshall called the state's work "imperfect" and at times arbitrary, but said the inmates due process rights were not harmed by a shortened timetable.

"These hearings were not a sham. They were not pro forma," Marshall said.

 Lawyers for the unsuccessful inmates said they would appeal.

 The judge said he would rule later on one inmate's request, because the Parole Board won't hear his clemency request until Friday. The eighth inmate scheduled to die this month did not request clemency and was not part of the other inmates' lawsuit that Marshall was considering.

 Parole Board policies require that inmates file their clemency requests 40 days ahead of their scheduled execution dates and that the board have hearings and make recommendations 30 days in advance so the governor and others interested in the cases can weigh in on the recommendations.

 Much of this week's two-day hearing centered on how much leeway panel Chairman John Felts had in altering the timetable with the board's approval. The state said the full 30-day timetable wasn't required under Parole Board rules that allow Felts to make decisions, with the board's permission, "in the interest of justice."

Marshall said that while the board let some inmates make requests late, it couldn't shorten the timetable for public comment on clemency requests that had merit, like McGehee's.

 The due process rights of the others weren't violated, he said, because they received sufficient notice and had an opportunity to be heard by an impartial board.

 The state noted that seven of the eight executions were still on.

"The victims' families have waited far too long to see justice for their loved ones, and today's decision from Judge Marshall allows all but one of the scheduled executions to move forward," said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

 Even with McGehee's execution off, seven executions in a month will still be a record for Arkansas. Only Texas has executed eight in a month since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976, doing it twice in 1997.

 Prosecutors say McGehee, who had just turned 20, directed the 1996 fatal assault of Johnny Melbourne Jr., a 15-year-old who had told police about a northern Arkansas theft ring. In voting 6-1 in favor of McGehee's clemency request, the Parole Board considered letters and testimony from the judge from McGehee's trial, a former Correction Department chief, members of McGehee's family and the victim's father.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Condemned inmate skips clemency hearing

 Jack Harold Jones Jr. did not show up for his executive clemency hearing Friday before the Arkansas Parole Board in Grady. Instead, the death-row inmate sent a letter to be read by his attorney saying if he were "miraculously" granted clemency before his execution date April 24, he would refuse it.

 "I shall not ask to be forgiven," Jones, 52, said concerning the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips in Bald Knob for which he was given the death penalty. He has been on death row at the Varner Supermax prison in Grady since being sentenced in 1996.

 Saying that he never has nor ever will want clemency, Jones said, "There's no way in hell I would spend another 20 years in this hellhole."

 He criticized the media and accused them of saying he was "begging" for his life, insisting he only signed the clemency application to present "solidarity" among the other seven inmates set to die, including one who has been recommended for clemency by the parole board.

 Jeff Rosenzweig, a criminal defense attorney out of Little Rock, told the board at the hearing that his client "is not here and he was not inclined to come out."

 Rosenzweig explained that he did visit with Jones first to confirm this was a voluntary decision.

 "He knowingly and voluntarily declined to attend," he said.

 Rosenzweig provided the board with a copy of the 3-inch thick stack of medical history he described as "recent" describing Jones as an amputee in a wheelchair with numerous medical conditions and having to take "a large number of medications" -- including methadone -- for nerve pain, spinal problems, high blood pressure and diabetes.

 "It is difficult for him to get around," Rosenzweig said.

 Before Jones' letter was read aloud, a lengthy video was played of an interview with Jones' sister, who is a year younger than Jones, asking the board to spare his life.

 A letter, not read aloud but distributed to commissioners, from Jones' half-sister also was provided to the board, but was not available to media in attendance.

 Jones' sister on video said she was unable to travel from North Carolina on four days' notice to attend the Friday morning hearing so she filmed the video Thursday.

 She described in length growing up with Jones and several siblings in a home filled with various abuses, and she thought of Jones as her "protector."

 He paints her pictures of birds in prison, she said, describing Jones as a creative artist and a writer.

 As kids, they were left alone for Thanksgiving while their parents were away gambling in Las Vegas, she said, leaving them to fend for themselves. An older half sister was abused more than the others, she said. Once told to go outside to play and not allowed to come in when hungry, the kids were punished after being found eating apple butter out of the garbage can. Jones' mother was described as a "reactionary punisher," who always had long, red fingernails and used them to scratch, grab and pinch.

 Inside, the house encased sexual abuse, incest, physical and mental abuse, and harsh punishments, including being tied to chairs to face each other when the siblings had arguments. The mother would use a dirty dish cloth from the kitchen to stifle the half sister when she laughed -- the mother didn't like the way it sounded, according to Jones' sister.

 She said he has never been given a shot by anyone, and if he had been properly treated for mental issues before the crime occurred, she didn't believe he would have done it.

 Jones' letter, which also contained many apologies, focused on Lacey Phillips, who was 11 when Jones choked her, beat her with the butt of a BB gun repeatedly and left her for dead tied to a chair in a bathroom while he raped and killed her 34-year-old mother in the next room in the accounting office where she worked. He described a grainy, old black and white picture of Lacey Phillips he kept on a "surgical table" and how he had written "YOU DID THIS" as a constant reminder.

 "I kept it so I would never forget to remember," he said in the letter.

 Lacey Phillips was present for the victim impact statement portion of the hearing later Friday afternoon in Little rock. She has said that Jones has had "too many" appearances before the parole board in the 21 years since being sentenced to death, but she attended them all. The Phillips family hopes this is the last parole hearing for Jones.

 Lacey Phillips also has said she will be at the prison during Jones' execution by lethal injection, but she isn't sure about watching it happen.

 Jones' letter did not mention or address the rape and murder of Lorraine Anne Barrett, for which Jones was convicted and sentenced to 30 years, in addition to the death sentence he already had received, in 2005 after his DNA matched a cold case. The Pennsylvania woman was 32 years old when she was strangled to death in a Florida motel room in 1991. Officials matched his DNA to that taken at the crime scene in 1995.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Federal appeals court grants AG's motion to lift stays of execution

 LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted late Monday afternoon the Arkansas Attorney General's motion to vacate the stays of execution imposed last week by a district judge.

 The 8th Circuit Court cited the prisoners' long delay in pursuing their federal claims, saying "the prisoners voluntarily elected to forego their federal claim in April 2015, and chose instead to challenge the method of execution exclusively in state court under the Arkansas Constitution."

 The court says that created a presumption against granting a stay of the executions.

 The court said Judge Baker's conclusion about the midazolam (the sedative used in lethal injections) was not adequately supported by the court's factual findings.

 The court disagreed that the execution method was sure or very likely to cause needless suffering.

 Monday's 8th Circuit ruling does not affect the Arkansas Supreme Court's stay issued for death row inmates Don Davis and Bruce Ward, who were scheduled to die Monday, April 17. This order paves the way for only the remaining 5 executions to proceed.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

What's next on Arkansas executions? 5 things to know

Jill Bleed, The Associated Press 8:24 a.m. ET April 19, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas remains hopeful it can execute five inmates before the end of the month after courts blocked the state from putting two men to death Monday night.

The inmates are fighting their executions on multiple legal fronts, but there are currently no stays in place for five who are set to die this month as the state rushes to beat an expiration date for one of its lethal drugs. The next executions are scheduled for Thursday.

Here is a look at the legal landscape as Arkansas pushes forward with its execution plan:


 At this point, yes, in five of the executions: for Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee, scheduled to die Thursday night; for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, set for lethal injection April 24; and for Kenneth Williams, scheduled for execution April 27.

Bruce Ward and Don Davis, who were to be executed Monday night, won stays from the Arkansas Supreme Court and the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Davis but not Ward. The U.S. Supreme Court then opted not to lift the stay for Davis.

A spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday that the state will make its arguments in the cases involving Davis and Ward before the state Supreme Court but will follow the current briefing schedule that the court has set, with deadlines into late May. Under that timeline, the state would be unable to execute Ward and Davis before its supply of midazolam expires April 30.

An eighth inmate, Jason McGehee, previously won a stay from a federal judge regarding his clemency schedule, and Arkansas has not appealed that ruling.


 There are many. The two set for execution Thursday, Lee and Johnson, both want more DNA testing in hopes of proving their innocence, though a Pulaski County judge on Tuesday rejected Lee's request for the enhanced tests.

Lee also wants his federal case reopened, with his attorneys arguing that Lee has fetal alcohol syndrome, brain damage and intellectual disability. Lee also argues that his trial judge had an affair with an assistant prosecutor and that he was previously represented by a lawyer who showed up drunk at court.

Marcel Williams argues that his execution could be especially painful because he is obese and has diabetes.

The legal issue that halted Monday's executions for Ward and Davis hinged on a separate, broader case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a defendant's access to independent experts, and attorneys say the justices' ruling could potentially affect the inmates' criminal convictions. That case will be argued next week.

Ward also had argued that he shouldn't be executed because of his mental capacity. His attorneys have said he is a diagnosed schizophrenic.


 A 101-page order that a federal judge filed early Saturday to block the executions was reversed Monday by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court noted that the inmates "have a long history of filing and dismissing claims to manipulate the judicial process and prevent Arkansas from carrying out their executions."

In her order, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker flagged two issues: the use of the midazolam and inmates' access to their attorneys on the days of their executions.

The state filed an amended plan Monday that grants attorneys for the inmates more phone access while on prison grounds.


 Justices rarely upend a lower court order in death penalty cases. That's true whether it's the inmate who is seeking an eleventh-hour reprieve or the state that wants to put a prisoner to death.

The court may be even more reluctant to do so now with new Justice Neil Gorsuch on board, especially because Gorsuch could be thrust into the uncomfortable position of taking a decisive and public death penalty stand very early in his tenure.

It takes five votes to get most things done at the court, including imposing or lifting a stay of execution.

The justices often split on death penalty issues, with the conservative justices more willing to allow an execution to take place and the liberal justices more inclined to side with inmates.


 A handful of drug companies are telling Arkansas that they don't want their products used to kill inmates. Two pharmaceutical companies filed a court brief last week asking Baker to block Arkansas from using their drugs, but Baker did not rule on that issue.

The medical supplier McKesson Corp. made a similar request in a separate case before a Pulaski County circuit judge, which he granted. But the Arkansas Supreme Court vacated that order after the judge, Wendell Griffen, was photographed participating in an anti-death penalty protest on the same day he issued his ruling.

McKesson refiled its suit Tuesday before a newly assigned judge.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

An Arkansas Inmate Had Already Had His Last Meal When the Supreme Court Prevented His Execution

Katherine Krueger

The United States Supreme Court upheld the stay of an Arkansas inmate's execution just hours before he was slated to die on Monday evening.

The decision not to override the Arkansas Supreme Court's stay of Don Davis' execution comes as the state desperately tries to move forward with its attempt to execute eight people in 10 days, before its cache of execution drugs expires on May 1. (The state Supreme Court had also stayed the execution of a second inmate, Bruce Ward.)

The Supreme Court's ruling came down just 15 minutes before Davis' death warrant was set to expire, and after Davis, who was convicted of murder more than 25 years ago, had already eaten what he chose as his final meal: fried chicken, rolls, great northern beans, mashed potatoes, and strawberry cake.

Witnesses were also reportedly being shuffled into the execution chamber when the decision was released.

The central issue in all eight cases is whether midazolam, one of the drugs used in lethal injection, sufficiently numbs an inmate to the pain of the other drugs used to kill them.

But, as The New York Times reports, Davis' life was spared over another issue entirely...whether he should be executed as the United States Supreme Court considers a case about whether poor defendants with mental health problems are entitled to expert witnesses to aid them in preparing and presenting their cases.

Despite the legal setback, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge vowed to push forward with five other executions, including those of Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, which are scheduled for Thursday.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Two Arkansas inmates slated for Monday executions

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As of Sunday morning, there are no legal orders preventing the state from carrying out its plan to execute two death row inmates Monday night.

 Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are slated to die by lethal injection at 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. respectively. They would be the second and third convicted killers put to death by the state in a period of four days.

 Jones was convicted in 1996 of the brutal murder and rape of 34-year-old Mary Phillips and attempted murder of her 11-year-old daughter Lacy in Bald Knob. Jones has said he's prepared to die for him crime.

 Williams is on death row for killing Stacy Errickson, a mother of two. He confessed to raping, beating, choking, and abducting her after she stopped for gas in Jacksonville.

 On Friday, a federal district judge declined the two inmates' plea to block the use of a controversial lethal injection drug. Jones and Williams argued they suffered from diabetes, sleep apnea and hypertension, which could lead to "botched" executions.  :P

 This week, Arkansas executed its first inmate in 12 years. Weeks of controversy, protest, legal wrangling, and constant last-minute developments culminated Thursday night at 11:56 p.m. with the death of convicted murderer Ledell Lee.

 Arkansas gained international attention for its original plan to execute eight death row inmates over a period of 11 days. It would've been a record.

 Following intervention from the courts, four scheduled executions dwindled down to one: Ledell Lee. With three executions scheduled next week, it's still possible Arkansas could put four inmates to death over a period of seven days. Only Texas has executed more convicted killers over that many days.

 Kenneth Williams is slated to be executed on Thursday.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Federal judges deny efforts to delay Arkansas executions

By The Associated Press Apr 24, 2017, 12:40 AM ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday in what could be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years asked an appeals court on Sunday to halt their lethal injections because of poor health that could cause complications.

Lawyers for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday to grant them stays of execution.

Jones' lawyers say he suffers from diabetes and is on insulin, has high blood pressure, neuropathy and had one leg amputated below the knee. He is on heavy doses of methadone and gabapentin. They say he may be resistant to the lethal injection drug midazolam because of the drugs he is taking for his maladies and could suffer a "tortuous death."

Lawyers for Williams say he weighs 400 pounds and it will be difficult to find a vein for lethal injunction, so the drugs are unlikely to work as intended.

The state said the appeals are just delaying tactics and should be denied. It was not clear when the appeals court will rule.

Arkansas originally wanted to execute eight inmates in 11 days by the end of April when its supply of midazolam expires. It put to death Ledell Lee last week in the state's first execution since 2005. But four of the eight inmates have had their executions blocked by the courts.

Also on Sunday, two lower court federal judges ruled against inmates in separate cases.

Judge Kristine Baker denied a request from several inmates, including Jones and Williams, that the rules for witnesses to view the executions be changed.

Judge J. Leon Holmes denied a stay of execution for Williams saying that the matter should be dealt with by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, because the inmate had already been appealed to the higher court.

Jones and Marcel Williams are scheduled to die on Monday and another inmate, Kenneth Williams, is set for execution Thursday. Both Jones and Williams have admitted they are guilty. Williams was sent to death row in 1994 for the rape and murder of Stacy Errickson. Jones was given the death penalty for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

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