The 10th Execution of 2017
Arkansas executed a its fourth death-row inmate in eight days, concluding a frantic execution schedule officials said was necessary to carry out death sentences before one of their drugs expired, reported the Washington Post.
The aggressive timetable drew international scrutiny and criticism, pushing Arkansas into the epicenter of American capital punishment as the state attempted to carry out an unprecedented wave of executions. Court orders ultimately blocked half of the scheduled lethal injections, including a second that had also been scheduled for Thursday night, even as the state was able to resume executions for the first time in more than a decade.
The execution of Kenneth Williams, who was convicted of killing a man he fatally shot after escaping from a prison where he was serving a life sentence for another killing, came after his attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he was intellectually disabled and not fit to be executed. Arkansas officials pushed back, saying these attorneys were only trying to delay his lawful sentence.
Relatives of another of Williams’s victims — a truck driver killed while Williams fled from police in a car chase following his prison escape — also pleaded for his life, asking the governor to call off the execution.
These pleas went unanswered, and Williams, 38, was given the lethal cocktail of drugs and pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m., according to the Associated Press, which has reporters serve as media witnesses in Arkansas. Media witnesses told reporters at the prison that during the execution, Williams briefly coughed, convulsed and lurched while on the gurney.
An AP reporter said Williams’ body lurched several times about three minutes into the process. Williams’ lawyers described the witness accounts as “horrifying” and demanded an investigation into what they called the “problematic execution,” the Associated Press reported.State authorities said this schedule was necessary because one of their lethal injection drugs — midazolam, a common sedative that has been controversial when used in executions — expires at the end of April. Pointing to an ongoing shortage of lethal injection drugs, sparked in part by drug companies’ objections to their products being used to kill people, officials said they had no guarantee of obtaining more drugs and needed to carry out the sentences of eight men convicted of capital murder, some decades ago.
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