An 11th Hour Execution: Ledell Lee Dies at 11:56pm

25 April, 2017, 04:29 | Author: Warren Cooper
  • Arkansas events show risk of ambitious execution schedule

Until Lee's execution Thursday night the state had been thwarted by the courts on each execution.

Unlike at least half of the eight other Arkansas inmates scheduled for execution over an 11-day period, Ledell Lee did not escape the death penalty. But NBC News reported that, in cases in states like Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona and OH in recent years, inmates were reportedly still conscious - despite the administration of the drug - as they were put to death, and showed signs of severe pain. Another execution scheduled for Thursday - of Stacey Johnson - was halted by the Arkansas Supreme Court to allow for advanced DNA tests Johnson says would prove he did not murder Carol Heath in 1993.

Ledell Lee's execution was scheduled for 7 p.m., but an evening of appeals kept him alive longer. Lee also sought relief in a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in federal court, and it was denied.

Whatever happens with the death penalty in the United States in the future, the fact that the Supreme Court got involved in the Arkansas death penalty case is extremely important when it comes to the practice on a national level.

Lee was convicted in 1995 in the murder of Debra Reese two years prior. Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. According to BuzzFeed, the four liberal justices voted in Lee's case to stop not only his execution, but that of the other Arkansas inmates' executions as well. The state had planned to execute eight inmates over 10 days starting April 1, but four of the men have received stays for various reasons.

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Nina Morrison, a senior staff attorney, specifically criticized Arkansas' "rush" to execute inmates because its drug supply is expiring. Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, waits at a desk for a telephone call with news from the death chamber at the Cummins Unit prison near Varner, Ark., on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Earlier this month, two other companies, Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corporation, came forth asking the court to prevent their products from being used in executions after they "learned of information suggesting that medicines they manufactured might be used in lethal injections in Arkansas".

"Apparently the reason the State made a decision to proceed with these eight executions is that the "use by" date of the State's execution drug is about to expire", Mr Breyer wrote. Ms Rutledge's office said the Attorney General would not appeal to the US Supreme Court over that case. Williams has also filed a challenge that claims his lawyers at trial were ineffectual. The rushed schedule was prompted by concerns that the state's supply of Midazolam was going to expire at the end of the month.

State officials said Friday that they were prepared to move forward with the remaining executions, starting with a double execution on Monday and a single execution on Thursday.

Throughout the process, Lee has maintained his innocence, arguing the eyewitness testimony was flawed.

The US Catholic J&P network, Catholic Mobilizing tweeted: "Christians like @AsaHutchinson celebrated Easter this week-the resurrection of an innocent man put to death by the State." and "Lee has been executed". Otherwise, he said, they will lose faith in the justice system.


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