US Supreme Court rejects Arkansas request to allow execution

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Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, meanwhile, says she is pursuing an appeal of the stay of Davis' and Ward's executions. (BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM.) In a separate order on Monday, the Arkansas justices forbade a circuit court judge in Pulaski County, Wendell Griffen, from hearing cases related to capital punishment after he participated in a protest against the death penalty last week. McKesson had asked to withdraw that lawsuit after a federal judge halted the state's multiple execution plan, but that judge's ruling was reversed by an appeals court Monday.

Lawyers for Davis had argued his case should be stayed pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision in another case on whether indigent defendants with mental health issues are entitled to expert witnesses to help them prepare their cases, according to the New York Times. Oral arguments will be held on the matter on April 24. Davis and Bruce Ward were each scheduled to be executed on Monday.

After the executions were halted, Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock said, "I would like to thank everyone who has prayed and worked so hard to prevent these scheduled executions from taking place".

"I am disappointed in this delay for the victim's family", Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.

Davis was sentenced to death for the 1990 death of Jane Daniel in Rogers, Arkansas.

As the lawsuits played out Monday, the state's execution facility was braced for a rapid reversal of the decisions.

In a setback for Ms Rutledge, the United States supreme court denied her request to vacate a stay issued by the Arkansas supreme court on Davis's execution. The lawyers say Ward has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenia while Davis has an IQ low enough to be considered to have an intellectual disability.

The state had scheduled eight men to die over the course of 11 days, because one of the drugs it planned to use in the executions expires at the end of April.

The drugs used in lethal injections by some American states - 19 of the 50 no longer execute prisoners - have become increasingly hard to obtain. This combination of undated photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Stacey E. Johnson, left, and Ledell Lee.

"That's something we had sought from the state and federal courts and had been denied, and we're making another run at it and showing that there are new techniques that came into effect literally this year that can provide results that can bear on the case", Rosenzweig said.

Fresenius Kabi USA, a subsidiary of the German company Fresenius Kabi, said last week that it appeared to have manufactured the potassium chloride the state plans to use.

Hutchinson suggested he had little choice: With Arkansas' midazolam supply set to expire at the end of this month, the authorities did not believe they would be able to restock it easily, effectively imposing a moratorium on the death penalty.

McKesson said the Arkansas Department of Corrections "purchased the products on an account that was opened under the valid medical license of an Arkansas physician, implicitly representing that the products would only be used for a legitimate medical objective". But the appeals court said the use of the method of execution, which includes the drug, midazolam, did not create undue severe pain.

The company wants the drug supply in question impounded. Midazolam has been used in a number of high-profile botched executions, including instances where inmates did not appear to be fully sedated when they received the painful second and third drugs in the cocktail.