State of Arkansas executes first death row inmate in a decade

African American in Prison

Arkansas executed convicted murderer Ledell Lee, the state’s first inmate put to death in more than a decade.

Lee, 51, was administered the lethal injection at 11:44 p.m. local time on Thursday (12:44 a.m. ET). He was pronounced dead 12 minutes later. His execution was Arkansas’ first since 2005. The state had planned to execute eight inmates over 10 days starting April 17, saying its lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month. Four of the men have received stays for various reasons.
 
The attorneys for the eight men attempted to block the executions, including using the argument that Midazolam, the drug used to make inmates unconscious before two more drugs paralyze and kill them, does not effectively prevent a painful death.
Jeffrey Rosenzweig, an attorney for three of the inmates, the second drug, pancuronium bromide, paralyzes the inmate. The third, potassium chloride, brings on cardiac arrest and stops the heart. “Unless the prisoner is unconscious, then drugs two and three will cause pain, torturous punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and state guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment.”
The lawyers have also fought the state’s decision to conduct the series of executions in a short time frame, which the state has said is because its lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month. According to Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “No state has ever conducted eight executions” over an 11-day period”.
Two other inmates Jack Harold Jones and Marcel W. Williams, both sentenced to death for capital murder are scheduled to be executed Monday.

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