April 7 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Arkansas postponed the execution of one of eight death row inmates scheduled for execution in April.
U.S. District Judge D.Price Marshall Jr. said in Thursday's ruling that Arkansas officials could not execute Jason McGehee, who was recommended for provisional clemency Wednesday by a parole board, because the state's execution schedule does not permit adequate time for the inmate's clemency petition.
State law requires a 30-day comment period before the recommendation is sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the final arbiter of McGehee's fate. Because the state must carry out any executions before the end of April, when its stock of one of the lethal injection drugs expires, McGehee's execution was postponed.
McGehee, on death row since 1996, is one of eight inmates scheduled for execution in Arkansas this month. The decision regarding his case does not affect those of the other seven.
Prior to the decision on McGehee's case, the parole board heard requests from four more inmates and did not recommend clemency. Marshall ruled that their executions should proceed as scheduled.
The judge's ruling comes as Arkansas has drawn the national spotlight for scheduling a string of eight executions within 10 days after conducting no executions for more than a decade.
Prison officials announced in March that the state acquired enough midazolam, one of three drugs used in lethal injections, to go ahead with the executions of the eight death row inmates, but that the drug expires by the end of April.
The men marked scheduled for executions, at an unprecedented rate of two per day for four days, are Don Davis, Bruce Earl Ward, to be executed on April 17; Ledelle Lee and Stacey Johnson, on April 20; Marcell Williams and Jack Jones, Jr., on April 24, and McGehee, until his postponement, and Kenneth Williams on April 27.
"The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is outraged by ... plans to carry out eight executions within the span of 10 days in April," the group said of the state's schedule. "This planned mass execution is grotesque."