As Arkansas' eight executions in 10 days looms, Professor Valena Beety reminds us at Jurist that until now, Arkansas's mark in death penalty history was its execution of Rickey Ray Rector: a man so unable to comprehend his surroundings that he ate his final meal and saved his slice of pecan pie for later.
Rector had shot himself in the head after committing his crime, but survived. Legally, the state may not execute a person who does not understand they are about to die. Yet the courts ducked the issue, and another famous Arkansas Governor—Bill Clinton—made sure to be present for Rector's execution even while campaigning for the presidency in 1992.
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