In­mate rushed to hospi­tal af­ter sui­cide at­tempt

Davis had ra­zor on death row

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - DEATHS - JOHN MORITZ

A pris­oner on Arkansas’ death row at­tempted sui­cide on Thurs­day and was rushed to a hospi­tal in Pine Bluff, the Arkansas State Po­lice said Fri­day.

A spokesman for the state Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tion said there had been a “med­i­cal in­ci­dent” in­volv­ing in­mate Don Davis, 55, adding only that Davis was alive and re­mained at the hospi­tal Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers at the Varner Su­per­max prison, the lo­ca­tion of death row, called state po­lice around 4 p.m. Thurs­day to re­port the at­tempted sui­cide, po­lice spokesman Bill Sadler said. Davis has been im­pris­oned since 1992 for killing Jane Daniel dur­ing a rob­bery at her home in Rogers.

In a se­ries of hand­writ­ten let­ters last fall, Davis, with­out ex­plain­ing why, asked to drop all ap­peals of his case and fire his at­tor­neys. The Arkansas Supreme Court de­nied his re­quest.

One of Davis’ fed­eral pub­lic de­fend­ers, John C. Wil­liams, said he was un­aware of con­cerns among Davis’ at­tor­neys that he might be sui­ci­dal. Wil­liams other­wise de­clined to com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Sadler, of­fi­cers be­came con­cerned af­ter Davis “in­di­cated he was trou­bled.” As staff were about to en­ter Davis’ cell, he put a ra­zor to his own throat, Sadler said.

What hap­pened next is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Sadler said. He added that Davis ap­peared to have left a note.

It re­mained un­clear Fri­day if Davis was al­lowed to have a ra­zor blade.

Davis was one of eight in­mates sched­uled to die by lethal in­jec­tion over a twoweek pe­riod in April 2017, be­fore he re­ceived a stay from the Arkansas Supreme Court over his coun­sel’s claims that Davis is men­tally un­fit for ex­e­cu­tion.

Nearly a year later, in March, the Arkansas jus­tices lifted their stay, and ruled that Davis was fit for ex­e­cu­tion. That rul­ing is on ap­peal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the mean­time, Davis has no ac­tive stay block­ing state of­fi­cials from mov­ing for­ward in reschedul­ing his ex­e­cu­tion, though so far the gov­er­nor and at­tor­ney gen­eral have not taken any steps to be­gin the process.

In an 2015 in­ter­view with the TV sta­tion KARK, Davis ex­pressed re­morse for his crimes and said he be­lieved his life had gained value while he was in prison.

“If the day I was found guilty in Bentonville and they would of took me out the next day and ex­e­cuted me, I feel as though that would have been a just ex­e­cu­tion,” Davis was quoted say­ing.

Cur­rently, Arkansas lacks one of the three drugs it uses in lethal in­jec­tions, and prison of­fi­cials have been un­able to ac­quire a new sup­ply since the last batch ex­pired ear­lier this year. Sev­eral drug man­u­fac­tur­ers have im­ple­mented stan­dards to pre­vent their prod­ucts from be­ing used in ex­e­cu­tions, and sev­eral com­pa­nies have ac­cused Arkansas of vi­o­lat­ing those stan­dards in or­der to ac­quire the drugs.

Prison of­fi­cials and Gov. Asa Hutchin­son have pro­posed adding more se­crecy pro­vi­sions to the state’s Method of Ex­e­cu­tion Act that will pre­vent the dis­clo­sure of who makes the state’s ex­e­cu­tion drugs. The sup­plier’s iden­tity is now pro­tected.

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