Arkansas poised to carry out first execution since 2005

The state had planned to execute eight inmates over 11 days starting April 17, saying its lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month.

The high court issued a temporary stay of the execution of convicted murderer Ledell Lee until 9:30 p.m. ET, or pending further action by the court, whichever comes later. "The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied".

The lawyers have also fought the state's decision to conduct the series of executions in a short time frame, which the state has said is because its lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month.

The last execution carried out in Arkansas was in 2005. Answers to death penalty queries.

Over the next two weeks, the state meant to execute eight inmates, including Lee, but the court held up three of the executions.

But Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed the case to the state Supreme Court who overruled Gray's decision, though they did not provide an opinion. The ruling came in an unprecedented lawsuit from drug distributor McKesson Corp., which alleged state officials misled the company when purchasing its supply of vecuronium bromide last July by using a physician's license number that implied the drug would be used only for medically approved purposes.

Justice Neil Gorsuch had an active first day on the Supreme Court on Monday, weighing in heavily on both of the Court's morning cases and injecting some humor into two dry legal subjects.

Jeff Rosenzweig, an attorney for Jones, said the inmates' conditions raise the likelihood of complications that were not apparent in Lee's execution.

In addition, though, multiple federal appeals are pending on issues relating to the state's use of the sedative midazolam in its three-drug protocol, the clemency process being used by the state in conjunction with the April scheduled executions, and the timing of the executions themselves.

"A member of the execution team began a consciousness check at 11:49 p.m.by flicking (Lee's) head, rubbing his eyes and tapping his sternum".

Lee was given three lethal injections: midazolam, which makes him unconscious; vecuronium bromide, to stop his breathing; and potassium chloride, to eliminate his heartbeat.

Earlier on Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court agreed with the state that it did nothing illegal in acquiring the muscle relaxant vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in its lethal injections, and lifted an order by a state circuit judge on Wednesday that blocked its use.

But Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston said he hasn't seen any backlash.

Lawyers for the state have complained that the inmates are filing court papers just to run out the clock.

The state has refused to answer questions about the drug suppliers, including whether the Department of Correction received Fresenius' letters, citing a law that keeps the drug sources secret.

"What McKesson's lawsuit demonstrates is that the secrecy law is not created to protect the distributors and manufacturers; it's created to try to prevent them from learning that the state has improperly obtained the drugs", said Dunham, whose nonprofit group opposes the death penalty. "That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random".

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