On Thursday, April 20, 2017, Arkansas Department of Correction death row inmate Ledell Lee was executed.
Arkansas used three drugs in the execution including the sedative midazolam.
Asa Hutchinson had originally set out a plan to execute eight prisoners before the state's batch of the lethal injection drug, midazolam, expires at the end of April.
Lee, 51, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m.
Lee, one of eight inmates scheduled to receive the injection, was put on death row for the 1993 death of his neighbour Debra Reese. Four of the planned executions so far have been stayed, but the state still has plans to kill three more men before the end of the month: Kenneth D. Williams and Jack Harold Jones on April 24 and Marcel W. Williams on April 27. It is likely that appeals Thursday will reach the U.S. Supreme Court and could stretch well into the night, as occurred Monday, when the justices released a late order that ultimately prevented the state's first attempt at an execution.
Another execution that was scheduled for Thursday was stopped by the Arkansas Supreme Court. McKesson said in court filings that a state official had intentionally misled the medical distribution company into thinking that the chemical was needed as part of a routine restocking of the hospital wing of the prison service. His lawyers filed several last-chance appeals, leading the Arkansas Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his execution by hours.
Arkansas dropped plans to execute a second inmate, Stacey Johnson, on the same day.
Lee's lawyers had requested modern DNA testing to provide the convict a chance to prove his possible innocence.
Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state will appeal Gray's ruling.
The Supreme Court denied the petitions.
Yesterday it was revealed that the Arkansas Department of Corrections would not allow members of the media to bring a paper or pencil into the viewing room.
A protracted legal battle threw into question aspects of the death penalty in the United States, which fell to a quarter-century low in 2016.
The court offered no explanation for the order, saying only that Johnson should be allowed to press on with his motion for post-conviction DNA testing. An assistant attorney general in Arkansas said in a court proceeding in 2015 that the third-party supplier of the state's midazolam agreed to the sale in return for anonymity despite the supplier's contract with the manufacturer forbidding the sale.
In their pleading, the companies warned that by buying up supplies of the drugs and hoarding them to be used only in executions, states like Arkansas are keeping those medications away from people who need them.
Fresenius Kabi USA LLC of IL and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp. of New Jersey stated in their petition that they have gone to great effort to keep their products from being used in lethal injections because they want their medications to be used to save lives and treat injuries and illnesses.
"Tonight the lawful sentence of a jury which has been upheld by the courts through decades of challenges has been carried out". Ledell Lee, who had also been scheduled for execution Thursday, is still seeking a stay in a separate case.