LATEST: Arkansas executions April 24, 2017 coverage
THURSDAY, APRIL 24
12:11 a.m. Friday » VIDEO: Governor's spokesman comments after state carries out double execution
J.R. Davis, spokesman for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, speaks Monday night at the Cummins Unit after the state carried out the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000. Video by Brandon Riddle/Arkansas Online
12:01 a.m. » 2nd inmate's execution took 17 minutes
The second inmate put to death by Arkansas on Monday night had labored breathing, then grimaced slightly before losing consciousness.
That's according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed Marcel Williams' execution.
Williams' execution began at 10:16 p.m., about two hours later than planned after a judge issued, then lifted, a temporary stay. He took several deep breaths shortly after the lethal injection began, and his breathing appeared to stop about eight minutes after the start.
Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m.
Williams weighed 400 pounds, and his attorneys had argued that his lethal injection could cause excessive pain because of his health.
GRADY — A second Arkansas inmate has been put to death Monday night in the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.
Marcel Williams died at 10:33 p.m., more than three hours after Jack Jones was pronounced dead. Both men died from lethal injections administered at the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Cummins Unit.
Williams refused to make a final statement. His lethal injection process began at 10:16 p.m.
The two men, who were each sentenced to death more than 20 years ago, pursued legal challenges into the night Monday in hopes of halting the executions, but neither effort was successful.
Williams was granted a last-minute stay by a federal judge after his attorneys argued that Jones’ death was “torturous” and “inhumane.” But that only delayed his execution, which originally had been set for 8:15 p.m.
Williams confessed to raping, beating and choking Stacy Errickson in November 1994 before disposing of her body “where she could not be found.”
A week after Williams’ arrest and 15 days after Errickson’s disappearance, the woman was found buried in a shallow grave on the grounds of an old nursery off Riverfront Drive, about 1 mile west of downtown North Little Rock.
In a statement released after Williams' execution, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said: “After years of delay, Stacy Errickson’s family and friends have seen justice carried out for her brutal death on November 20, 1994. I hope that tonight’s lawful execution brings much-needed peace to all of Stacy’s loved ones, particularly her now-adult children Brittany and Bryan.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he reviewed the "case thoroughly and determined that clemency should not be granted."
This is a serious and reflective time in our state and it is important for the Errickson family and all Arkansans to know that in this case our laws ended in justice,” he said.
Arkansas originally planned to execute eight death-row inmates over 11 days this month. Four of the executions were halted, but one more, that of Kenneth Williams, is scheduled Thursday night.
— The Associated Press
9:28 p.m. » Judge lifts stay of execution for Marcel Williams
A federal judge has lifted a stay she issued earlier in the night that halted Marcel Williams' execution, allowing his lethal injection to proceed.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker had issued the stay after attorneys for Williams argued in a filing that death-row inmate Jack Jones earlier Monday night died a "torturous" and "inhumane" death. The state, which called those claims baseless, is trying Monday night to execute two death-row inmates, which would be the first double execution in a single day for the first time in the U.S. since 2000.
In a three-sentence order shortly before 9:30 p.m., Baker lifted her temporary stay. 📄 Click here to read the order.
It wasn't immediately clear if Williams would seek an appeal.
Lacey Phillips Seal, daughter of murder victim Mary Phillips, speaks after her convicted killer, Jack Jones, was executed Monday. Video by Brandon Riddle/Arkansas Online.
8:30 p.m. » Judge issues stay of execution after attorneys argue first inmate suffered apparent 'torturous and inhumane' death
A federal judge has issued a stay of execution for the second Arkansas inmate set to be put to death Monday night after attorneys filed a challenge based on purported issues during the first lethal injection, which the the attorneys said appeared to be "torturous and inhumane."
The state in a response contested those claims and said the execution should proceed.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued the emergency stay just before Marcel Williams was to be put to death. It was set to run until 8:30 p.m. or until she issues another order, which could extend the stay well beyond that time. 📄 Click here to read the order
Earlier Monday night, Jack Jones was put to death.
Attorneys for Williams contend in a filing that "infirmary staff tried unsuccessfully to place a central
line in Mr. Jones’s neck for 45 minutes before placing one elsewhere on his body." 📄 Click here to read the full filing.
"Mr. Williams did not agree to the insertion of a central line," the attorneys wrote. "Thus his execution is likely to be even more torturous than the Jones execution."
In the state response, Arkansas Deputy Solicitor General Nicholas J. Bronni called the claims "inaccurate." 📄 Click here to read the state response.
"Plaintiff’s claim that [the Department of Correction] then placed the central line elsewhere is false," he wrote. "At Jones’ request, ADC placed two IV lines and the execution proceeded with two IV lines, just as Plaintiff’s execution will proceed."
Attorneys for Williams also wrote that Jones was "moving his lips and gulping for air" after being administered midazolam, suggesting he had not been rendered unconscious as the drug is supposed to do.
Bronni countered that that claim was " unsupported by press accounts or the accounts of other witnesses."
"There was no constitutional violation in Jones’ execution," he wrote, adding it was "utterly baseless" to call the death torturous or inhumane.
Executed inmate Jack Jones made his last statement as he lay strapped down to gurney, his arms extended, according to media witnesses. He appeared calm as he spoke, rambling and repeating himself at times, Associated Press reporter Andrew DeMillo told reporters.
The three media witnesses were led into the viewing room at 7:03 p.m. Jones spoke for about two minutes, and the execution began at 7:06 p.m.
Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. Monday, 14 minutes after the procedure began at the state's Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas. There were no apparent complications, and Jones' chest stopped moving two minutes after officials checked for consciousness.
Jones, who'd argued that his health conditions could lead to a painful death, gave a lengthy last statement.
"I can't believe I did something to her." he said "I tried to be respectful from the time I took and become a better person. I hope I did better. I hope over time you could learn who I really am and I am not a monster. There was a reason why those things happened that day. I am so sorry Lacey, try to understand I love you like my child."
Jones also released a written statement to be read by his attorney, which can be viewed above or in a larger version by clicking here.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request for a stay of execution from an inmate set to be put to death at 8:15 p.m.
In an order issued shortly before 7:50 p.m., the nation's high court declined to halt the execution of Marcel Williams. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
Williams' is the second of two inmates set to be put to death by lethal injection Monday night. Jack Jones was executed shortly before 7:30 p.m.
Condemned murderer Jack Jones, one of two inmates who had executions set Monday night, has been put to death by lethal injection.
The execution process began at 7:06 p.m., said Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves. Jones was pronounced dead by the coroner at 7:20 p.m.
The media witnesses selected for Williams' execution were Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press, Tracy Whitaker of The Searcy Daily Citizen and David Lippman of Little Rock's THV11.
Around 6:45 p.m., the Arkansas journalists left a makeshift media center set up in the Cummins Unit visitation building for transport via van to the execution chamber.
Jones was convicted in the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips, whose body was found in the office of a bookkeeping and accounting firm where she worked in June 1995.
Earlier Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Jones for a stay of his execution and review of his case.
In a statement released after Jones was executed, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said: “This evening, Lacey Phillips Manor and Darla Phillips Jones have seen justice for the brutal rape and murder of their mother, Mary Phillips."
The Phillips family has waited far too long to see justice carried out, and I pray they find peace tonight,” she added.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also said he hoped the death would "help bring closure to the Phillips family."
In a statement, he said: "A governor never asks for this responsibility, but I accept it as part of the solemn pledge I made to uphold the law."
Another inmate, Marcel Williams, is also scheduled to die at 8:15 p.m.
Minutes after Jones was pronounced dead, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied a request from Williams for a stay of his execution. Online court records show that decision was filed at 7:27 p.m.
A separate request for a stay of Williams’ execution pending before the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet been decided.
— Brandon Riddle
6:45 p.m. » PHOTOS: Site of Arkansas executions
6:15 p.m. » U.S. Supreme Court denies inmate's request to halt execution; lethal injection set for 7 p.m.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied condemned inmate Jack Jones' requests to grant him a temporary execution stay and review his previous case, clearing the way for him to be put to death at 7 p.m.
Jones, convicted in the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips, told the Supreme Court justices that the Arkansas Supreme Court had ruled that a discrepancy on the juror’s verdict form sentencing him to death was a “harmless error,” according to the court filing.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority in the decision Monday night.
The media witnesses selected for Williams' execution are Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press, Tracy Whitaker of The Searcy Daily Citizen and David Lippman of Little Rock's THV11.
Jones is one of two executions set for tonight. Marcel Williams' request for a stay has not been decided on by the U.S. Supreme Court.
— Jillian Kremer
A condemned inmate’s latest argument that he should not be executed because his previous counsel plagiarized should be ignored, the state argued Monday.
Convicted killer Marcel Williams filed a motion around 4 p.m. Monday asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to stay his execution slated for 8:15 p.m. tonight and review his case.
The court should halt the lethal injection because Williams’ trial and direct appeal lawyer, Herbert Wright, who is now a circuit court judge, plagiarized a good portion of his argument, the inmate’s new lawyers argued.
In her response filed at 5:27 p.m., Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called Williams’ accusation against Wright “especially odious.”
Making an argument “based on authority and precedent is the very definition of what lawyers and courts do, and while counsel’s approach might not have been ideal, it does not warrant reopening this nearly two decades old case,” Rutledge wrote.
“Indeed, Williams does not point to any actual prejudice from counsel’s citation practices,” she added.
Rutledge also told the state Supreme Court that Williams is raising this “canned” argument just hours before his execution.
In doing so, Williams “offers absolutely no reason why he did not raise this claim nearly two decades ago, a year ago, when the Governor set his execution date, or even yesterday,” Rutledge wrote.
Two Arkansas inmates set to be executed tonight have been given their last meals.
According to prison spokesman Solomon Graves, condemned inmate Jack Jones had three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with tartar sauce, a chocolate milkshake with Butterfingers pieces, beef jerky bites and fruit punch. He is set for lethal injection at 7 p.m.
Convicted murderer Marcel Williams had three pieces of fried chicken, potato logs with ketchup, nachos with chili cheese and jalapenos, banana pudding and two Mountain Dews. His execution his scheduled for 8:15 p.m. tonight.
Both men have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt their executions and review their cases, but the high court has not made a decision yet.
4:56 p.m. » Lawyers argue that state Supreme Court should halt inmate's execution because previous attorneys plagiarized
Marcel Williams, a condemned inmate slated to be killed Monday night, should have his case reviewed by the state Supreme Court because his previous attorneys plagiarized a good deal of their argument against his execution, his new lawyers wrote in a court filing Monday afternoon.
Attorney Scott W. Braden then argued in a 4 p.m. filing that the state Supreme Court should reverse its decision to deny Williams a reprieve because his appellate briefing was “plagiarized.”
Both the opening brief and reply brief “contained whole swaths of argument sections lifted entirely from other sources without attribution.” Nearly 10 of the 14 pages were cut and pasted verbatim from a 1961 U.S. Supreme Court case, Braden said.
Williams’ attorney’s decision to plagiarize denied him a “meaningful appellate review,” Braden wrote. Therefore, the state Supreme Court should look over his case again and grant an execution stay, he said.
4:38 p.m. » Arkansas attorney general's office responds to inmate's request for U.S. Supreme Court to halt execution
A convicted murderer’s effort to pause his execution should be denied by the U.S. Supreme Court because it is “piecemeal” litigation designed to “manipulate the judicial process,” the Arkansas attorney general’s office argued Monday.
Condemned inmate Jack Jones has asked the country’s highest court to grant him a temporary execution stay and review a previous case. Jones, convicted in the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips, told the Supreme Court justices that the Arkansas Supreme Court had ruled that a discrepancy on the juror’s verdict form sentencing him to death was a “harmless error,” according to the court filing.
However, in similar cases, the court had applied their harmless error judgement differently, thus violating Jones’ constitutional rights, his lawyer argued. On those grounds, Jones should be granted a temporary stay until that issue is sorted out, the document said.
In response, Arkansas Solicitor General Lee Rudofsky urged the court to reject Jones’ reasoning in a Monday afternoon filing.
Jones’ “eleventh-hour, last-ditch attempt run at a claim that the Arkansas Supreme Court has long ago put to rest should not be rewarded with a stay or recall of the mandate,” Rudofsky wrote.
The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision in Jones’ case is not inconsistent with other decisions that the justices made, Rudofsky said. Rather, the cases the plaintiffs bring up are factually distinguishable from Jones’ case, and the court ruled as such, he wrote.
Also, Jones has had “many years” to litigate this argument, and he has done so “without success,” the document states. The decision to file the appeal Sunday is “reason enough to deny the claim," Rudofsky wrote.
The state’s attorney general’s office also argued that the U.S. Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on this matter because Jones’ argument is based entirely on state law and does not qualify for federal review.
Barring a reprieve, Jones is set to be lethally injected at 7 p.m. while another inmate, Marcel Williams, is will be executed at 8:15 p.m. They are two of eight men originally set to be killed at the end of April before the state’s supply of a lethal drug expires.
4:12 p.m. » Inmate asks U.S. Supreme Court to halt execution because weight makes lethal injection 'cruel and unusual'
An inmate scheduled to be executed tonight has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue an injunction and review his previous argument that, because of his weight, lethal injection would be “cruel and unusual.”
Convicted murderer Marcel Williams has asked the country’s highest court to issue the execution stay and a writ of certiorari, meaning the court would review a case previously presented by his attorneys.
In that case, Williams’ attorneys argued that his “particular health conditions — extreme obesity, diabetes, neuropathy, obstructive sleep apnea, and potassium deficiency — will prevent the State from carrying out the lethal-injection protocol without causing him extreme suffering,” the court filing reads.
Therefore, his execution would be cruel and unusual, violating his constitutional rights, his lawyers argued.
Without court intervention, Williams is set to die at 8:15 p.m. tonight at the Cummins prison unit in Grady.
3:23 p.m. » Death-row inmate asks U.S. Supreme Court to halt execution; appeals court won't stop 1 inmate's lethal injection
A condemned man set to die tonight has asked the country’s highest court to stave off his execution and reconsider evidence from his trial, according to court filings.
The attorney for convicted murdered and rapist Jack Jones has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a temporary injunction and a writ of certiorari in his case. Jones, along with another inmate, Marcel Williams, is scheduled to die Monday night, with Jones set to be lethally injected at 7 p.m. and Williams at 8:15 p.m.
Jones’ attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily stay his client’s execution as well as reconsider information from the sentencing period of Jones' trial.
When deciding on Jones' death sentence, jurors marked on their verdict forms that they had found several mitigating circumstances “non-unanimously,” Rosenzweig wrote. Yet in a different section on that same form, the jury indicated that members “unanimously" rejected those mitigating circumstances, he wrote.
The Arkansas Supreme Court later found that this discrepancy was a “harmless error,” Rosenzweig wrote. But the state court has not applied this type of harmless error judgement in cases that were very similar to Jones’ both before and after his appeal, the lawyer said.
Therefore, executing Jones would violate his constitutional rights under the Eighth and 14th amendments, Rosenzweig argued. The Eighth Amendment says a person cannot undergo punishment that is “cruel and unusual” while the 14th guarantees that people will be treated equally and given due process under the law.
Jones was convicted in the 1995 raping and killing of Mary Phillips at a Bald Knob accounting office while her daughter, whom he also beat, was in another room.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals panel rejected another legal challenge for Williams on Monday afternoon as the state presses forward with its plan to conduct the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.
Williams had argued that his morbid obesity and diabetes could lead to "severe pain and serious harm" during his lethal injection Monday night. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Williams' request for stay.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected requests for stays of execution from two inmates set to die in the nation's first double execution since 2000.
Jack Jones Jr. and Marcel Williams had asked the state's highest court to stop their executions, which are set for Monday night. Arkansas is trying to use a sedative that expires at the end of the month, and if the men don't receive lethal injections as scheduled their executions will be off indefinitely. The state has said it has no new source for midazolam.
In separate one-paragraph orders, justices said they would not reopen the men's cases and refused to issue stays of execution.
Jones is scheduled to die at 7 p.m., with Williams' execution set for 8:15 p.m.
A federal appeals court on Monday also rejected a stay request for Jones, while a stay request from Williams is still pending.
A federal appeals court has rejected an Arkansas inmate's request for a stay of execution for the rape and killing of a woman more than two decades ago.
Jack Jones Jr. says his lethal injection could be cruel and unusual because he is diabetic and overweight. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request Monday, hours before his scheduled execution.
Jones was convicted of raping and strangling Mary Phillips at a Bald Knob accounting office on June 6, 1995. He said that while the courts have upheld Arkansas' lethal injection protocol in general, the drugs will have a different impact on him because of his poor health. The court rejected his argument, and also said he should have filed his challenge earlier.
Fellow death-penalty states watching Arkansas' try for an unprecedented number of lethal injections can take a tip from the results so far, legal scholars said.
Carrying out any number of death sentences under court scrutiny is not a simple task.
A dizzying number of legal appeals have succeeded in halting half of Arkansas' planned eight-man execution schedule, though the state plans this week to go ahead with at least three more lethal injections, starting tonight.
After a federal judge on Friday declined to offer stays for Jack Jones Jr. and Marcel Williams, who are set to die at the Cummins prison unit tonight, their attorneys said they intended to appeal.