Arkansas of­fi­cials ask courts to clear path for ex­e­cu­tions

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OPINION -

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.

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