Arkansas officials ask courts to clear path for executions
Arkansas prepared again Thursday to conduct its first executions since 2005, wary and weary after a series of court decisions gutted its unprecedented plan to put eight men to death before the end of the month.
Lawyers for the state were asking courts to clear a path for a double execution scheduled for Thursday night. One legal hurdle the state had to overcome in its plan to execute Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee was a court order preventing it from using its supply of vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs in Arkansas’ lethal injection protocol. Another obstacle was an Arkansas Supreme Court decision giving Johnson time to pursue advanced DNA testing that his lawyers say could clear him.
The state originally set four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Crew change: The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft carrying a new crew to the International Space Station blasts off at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on Thursday. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.