Inmate rushed to hospital after suicide attempt
Davis had razor on death row
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.