Arkansas executes 2 inmates on the same gurney, hours apart

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The second inmate executed, Marcel Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. Williams was executed for the 1994 rape, kidnapping and murder of Stacy Errickson.

Williams' attorneys briefly stalled the man's execution after they raised concerns about how the prior execution was carried out. Williams' attorneys argued that "current circumstances demonstrate an ongoing constitutional violation-cruel, unusual, and inhumane infliction of pain and suffering upon Mr. Williams that is imminent based on the Jones execution". The two were among eight inmates Gov. Asa Hutchinson set for execution in April before the state's supply of sedatives used in lethal injection expires at the end of the month.

Up until last week, the state hadn't held an execution since 2005.

Asa Hutchison made a decision to schedule the execution of eight prisoners before its batch of midazolam, a drug used to render a person unconscious during the execution, expires at the end of April.

In a statement issued late Monday, James Clark, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA, said: "Tonight Arkansas continues its shameful backslide against prevailing trends away from the death penalty".

Williams' "morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line can not be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung)", his attorneys wrote in a court filing asking justices to block the execution.

Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.

Before his execution, Jones delivered a two-minute final statement where he apologised to Phillips' family, ending with: I'm sorry. After the district court denied him relief, he appealed his claims related to lethal injection protocol and ineffective counsel to the Eighth Circuit. Neither the media witnesses nor the attorneys had been allowed to witness officials place the IVs, per prison department policy, which a prison spokesman said also led officials to turn off an audio connection between the execution chamber and witness room shortly after Jones uttered his final statement. The state is also due to execute Kenneth Williams Thursday. He was also convicted of abducting and raping two other women.

The request was granted, temporarily halting Williams' execution.

Jones was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips, CNN reports. She was strangled to death with a coffee pot cord while daughter Lacey was tied to a chair.

Instead, they claimed, he remained conscious, moving his lips and "gulping for air" after it was administered. Arkansas has executed three inmates in the past week using midazolam, a sedative that's been the subject of multiple court challenges since it was first used by Florida in 2013.

Four inmates have won reprieves, but Jones and Williams were the second and third to be executed and a fourth inmate faces death on Thursday. Williams admitted responsibility to the state Parole Board last month.

He did not request a clemency hearing, saying in a letter, "Your wish is and always has been that I die and I could never ever deny you this".

However, he said that he prospect of the man's execution, which arose and disappeared continuously, "means reliving the hurt of the murder itself, and that every stay of execution now feels like an insult to his wife".

Including Jones, eight people have been executed in the United States this year, four in Texas, two in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Virginia. He told the jury that since he was bipolar himself, he knew that Jones wasn't bipolar.

Williams' right eye was open the last time Giani saw him, she said, when a curtain was drawn between the witnesses and the execution room.