Arkansas carries out its first execution since 2005

US state of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee  after US Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour stay part of a plan to execute eight prisoners by the end of the month

The broader fight in Arkansas centers on the state's aggressive plan to carry out executions for the first time since 2005.

"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", Breyer wrote in his dissent. One of those cases spared Don Davis, who again received a stay Monday night.

Numerous legal clashes over Arkansas's plan focus on use of the drug midazolam, a sedative meant to render a condemned person unconscious before other drugs stop the heart.

Vecuronium bromide halts an inmate's breathing. The third, potassium chloride, brings on cardiac arrest and stops the heart.

"McKesson was duped. into providing the drugs", lawyer John Tull said, arguing the company could see its reputation and bottom line suffer.

The state had originally scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April but the first three executions were cancelled because of various court decisions. State lawyers had argued that Gray had exceeded her authority. Johnson's execution was stayed on Wednesday by the state high court. 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.

The Arkansas Supreme Court later reversed the restraining order. One week later, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order that blocked six of the executions, and the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an emergency stay blocking the seventh.

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. He was the first person to be executed in the state in 15 years.

Lee was convicted of the 1993 strangulation of Debra Reese in a Little Rock suburb.

Several of Reese's neighbors saw Lee near the house and identified him to police.

Arkansas's push to reduce the number of its death-row prisoners by 20 percent in less than two weeks has drawn sharp protests worldwide, and Lee's execution was met with swift criticism.

"Today is a shameful day for Arkansas, which is callously rushing the judicial process by treating human beings as though they have a sell-by date", the organization said in a statement. Outside groups and the candidates spent more than $1.6 million past year on a pair of high court races that were among the most fiercely fought judicial campaigns in the state's history.

The US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St Louis considered a last-minute request from Lee for DNA testing, and had issued a stay until 9:15pm on Thursday (01:15 GMT Friday).

McKesson sued to get the drugs back, claiming that prison officials had acted underhandedly to obtain them, then had reneged on a promise to return the drugs even after McKesson refunded the state's money. Lee was declared dead shortly before midnight, Central Time. Lee was offered a last meal before his execution but asked for Holy Communion instead.

SEAN MURPHY: The inmate appeared to lose consciousness very quickly, didn't - I mean, within a matter of minutes his eyes closed.

Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves says Lee did not make a final statement before his execution began at 11:44 p.m.

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