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Arkansas carries out first double executions in U.S. since 2000

By Mike Bambach and Allen Cone
Jack Herald Jones Jr. (L) and Marcel Wayne Williams were put to death by lethal injection Monday in Arkansas. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections
Jack Herald Jones Jr. (L) and Marcel Wayne Williams were put to death by lethal injection Monday in Arkansas. Courtesy Arkansas Department of Corrections

April 24 (UPI) -- Arkansas put to death condemned murderers Jack Jones and Marcel Williams on Monday night, the first double legal injection of prisoners carried out in the United States since 2000 in Texas.

Jones, convicted in the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips, was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m., said Arkansas Department of Correction spokesman Solomon Graves.

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Williams, who confessed to raping and killing Stacy Errickson in 1994, died at 10:33 p.m.

Both men died from lethal injections administered at the Arkansas Department of Correction's Cummins Unit.

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Williams, who was granted a last-minute stay after his attorneys argued Jones' death was "torturous" and "inhumane," was put to death after U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker lifted the stay.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled eight lethal injections over the course of 11 days in April, the first executions in the state in 12 years.

Arkansas wanted to execute the death row inmates before its supply of one of the sedatives used in lethal injections -- midazolam -- expires at the end of this month.

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Three prisoners have been executed, including Jones and Williams. On Thursday, Ledell Lee was killed in Lincoln County, about 70 miles from the Little Rock capital, 4 minutes before his death warrant was set to expire.

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One more is scheduled this week -- Kenneth Dewayne Williams on Thursday night.

Jason Farrell McGehee's execution was also scheduled for Thursday but it's on hold. A parole board recommended his life be spared and a judge ruled that the state must allow a 30-day period for public comment before he issues a final decision. Because the period will expire after his execution date, the governor will have to sign a new death warrant for the date.

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Earlier scheduled executions are on hold for Bruce Earl Ward, Don William Davis and Stacey Eugene Johnson because of legal action.

Executions were briefly blocked in the state court and federal court. But last Monday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected concerns over how they will be carried out and the pace. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned objections to how the state acquired of one its drugs.

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