Arkansas vows to keep pushing for executions despite setback

Supreme Court denies Arkansas request to conduct executionMore

It is scheduled to hear two more death penalty cases on April 24, the date two more Arkansas prisoners are slated for execution.

Associate Justice Shawn Womack, writing in dissent, said Davis and Ward "had their day in court" and that the families are "entitled to closure and finality of the law". The judge last week prohibited the state from using a lethal injection drug a supplier said was misleadingly obtained.

But prosecutors surmounted a major roadblock earlier on Monday when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court judge's ruling to stay all of the executions. The inmates' counsel requested stays of execution until a US Supreme Court ruling on an upcoming case concerning inmate access to independent mental health experts.

Hutchinson noted that the state Supreme Court decision was not unanimous and said any further delay harms the loved ones of the two people killed by Davis and Ward.

Before the executions were halted, Bishop Dewane had contrasted the practice with the message of the Easter Triduum, the holiest time of the Church's liturgical calendar.

Asa Hutchinson (R) argued that one of the state's lethal drugs was soon to expire, so the executions needed to take place because they may not be able to replace it.

Last week, the US Bishops' Conference's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development pleaded with the Governor of Arkansas to reconsider his plans to execute seven men in the next 11 days to use up the state's last batch of the controversial drug Midazolam because it is due to expire at the end of the month.

A rally, at which Bishop Taylor was present, was held outside the Arkansas State Capitol April 14 calling for the executions to be stopped.

Arkansas is making preparations for a series of executions that, as of late morning Monday, it is legally barred from carrying out.

But there was a victory for the state when a federal court lifted an order that blocked all seven executions because of suffering caused by the lethal injection. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold to be used for medical purposes, not executions.

The decision came even as the Arkansas Supreme Court was issuing an order halting two executions set for Monday.

Arkansas' attorney general says she will seek an "immediate review" of a state Supreme Court decision that halted two executions set for Monday, though several other legal obstacles remain for the state to carry out its plan. At 11:45, there was still no word from the high court. One of them, the sedative midazolam, has been associated with botched executions in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.

The 51-year-old Lee was sentenced to die for the 1993 killing of his neighbor Debra Reese, who was struck 36 times with a baseball bat-like tool. In at least four different cases, death-row inmates have woken up after being administered the drug.

(Stephen B. Thornton/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP).

As the legal battle plays out, the state's execution facility is readying for a rapid reversal of the decisions.

But Hutchinson said that the state, which has not conducted an execution since 2005, would continue to push to carry out its quick-fire executions.

"Davis' exact schedule for the day is confidential but as part of the death protocol, he will be meeting with counsel and a spiritual adviser", KATV reports. "Authorities say a last meal has also been arranged". His execution would have been Arkansas' first in more than a decade.

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