April 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arkansas' request to lift a stay of execution, sparing a death-row inmate who was scheduled to die on Monday night.
After the Arkansas Supreme Court halted two executions set for Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson appealed to the nation's high court for the execution of convicted murderer Don Davis to proceed as scheduled.
Davis had been in a holding cell at the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County. His execution would have been Arkansas' first in more than a decade.
Earlier, the state high court's 4-3 decision was a response to a plea for the state to avoid executing Davis until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a pending case.
That case, McWilliams vs. Dunn from Alabama, is scheduled for oral argument next week and involves legal questions about expert testimony at criminal trials. A decision is expected by June.
The Arkansas court's ruling also applied to a second inmate, Bruce Ward, who was also scheduled to die Monday. His execution was stayed late last week.
Meanwhile, in another ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis overruled a lower U.S. court decision that blocked Arkansas' plan to execute eight inmates in 11 days.
That cleared the way for Arkansas to proceed with executions of the six remaining inmates, scheduled for April 24 and April 27.
Hutchinson defended the accelerated schedule, unmatched in the modern era, because the state's supply of one of the lethal drugs used in the process expires at the end of April. No replacement for the drug could be guaranteed amid an ongoing shortage.