Court rejects stay for 1 of 2 Arkansas inmates

Arkansas executed Jack Harold Jones on Monday night in the first of two executions scheduled for that evening.

But in court documents filed earlier this month, Wendy Kelley, director of the Arkansas Department of Correction, said having multiple executions on one night is better than setting separate dates "because the stress is more associated with an execution night than with a specific number of executions".

But it was a short reprieve. His chest stopped moving two minutes after they checked for consciousness, and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Intravenous lines are placed before witnesses are allowed access to the death chamber. The attorneys argued that Williams, 46, who was also obese, could face a "torturous death".

A federal judge cleared Arkansas to perform a rare double execution Monday night, lifting her order that had temporarily blocked a second lethal injection after attorneys raised concerns about the first. Searcy Daily Citizen reporter Tracy Whitaker said Jones appeared coherent as he delivered a two-minute statement focusing on Phillips' daughter, Lacey, whom Jones beat and left for dead. In Jones' last words he said, "I can't believe I did something to her".

He told Phillips' daughter, Lacy, who was injured during the attack, that he hoped that "over time you can learn who I really am and I am not a monster".

The executions went forward after the US Supreme Court denied the inmates' emergency petitions for stays Monday night. The state has said it has no new source for midazolam. If put to death, they would be the second and third Arkansas inmates executed this month.

In recent pleadings before state and federal courts, the inmates said the three drugs Arkansas uses to execute prisoners - midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride - could be ineffective due to their poor health.

Williams' last meal was three pieces of fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos with chili cheese and jalapeno, and potato logs with ketchup, the Times reported.

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The last state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day was Texas, which executed two killers in August 2000. Jack Jones was 52-years-old.

Jones was convicted in 1996 of raping and murdering Phillips in the accounting office where she worked as a bookkeeper. She helped solve the case.

The 11th-hour stay for Williams came after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court on Monday denied a flurry of appeals by both men.

Williams' trial lawyers failed to investigate and present to the jury details of his "nightmarish" childhood and made many other "numerous" mistakes during his capital murder trial, according to Laura Burstein, communications consultant with the Squire Patton Boggs law firm based in Cleveland. In his youth, Williams was both abused and neglected by his mother.

Williams was convicted of raping and murdering 22-year-old Stacy Errickson after kidnapping her from a Jacksonville gas station and forcing her to withdraw money from several ATMs in 1994. Errickson did not make it to work that day and did not pick up her child from the babysitter. Her body was found two weeks later. Williams was sentenced to death in 1995.

Williams' "morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line can not be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung)", his attorneys wrote in an earlier court filing asking justices to block the execution. "This case is simply the latest, textbook example of those tactics".

A federal appeals court on Monday also rejected a stay request for Jones, while a stay request from Williams is still pending. "Petitioner has done all he can to manipulate the judicial process and prevent Arkansas from carrying out his just and lawful executions". He had been set for execution at 8:15 p.m. Monday.

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