Friday, April 21, 2017
Arkansas Gov Hutchinson gets his first scalp
In a triumph of political depravity, Arkansas has executed the first of 8 death row inmates they want to of in a chemically induced mortality extravaganza before their killer drugs expire.
The State of Arkansas, dismissing criticism that it intended to rush too many prisoners to their deaths too quickly, on Thursday night carried out its first execution in more than a decade. Using a lethal injection drug that has been the subject of sharp constitutional debate, the state plans to execute three more men by the end of the month, before its supply of the chemical expires.Fortunately for Arkansas, Neil Gorsuch was able to help them use up one dose of the soon to be unusable midazolam. Better to kill them than waste money letting it expire.
Ledell Lee, who was condemned to death for the murder of Debra Reese more than 20 years ago in a Little Rock suburb, died at 11:56 p.m. Central time at the Cummins Unit, a prison in southeast Arkansas, after the reprieves he had won in federal and state courts were overturned. He received injections of three drugs: midazolam, to render him unconscious; vecuronium bromide, to halt his breathing; and potassium chloride, to stop his heart.
State officials administered the lethal injection at 11:44 p.m., after Mr. Lee, who requested holy communion as his last meal, wordlessly declined to make a final statement. Sean Murphy, a reporter for The Associated Press who witnessed the execution, said Mr. Lee was not visibly uncomfortable as he was put to death. The prisoner, Mr. Murphy said, was not responsive when the authorities performed consciousness checks.
An evening of appeals kept Mr. Lee, 51, alive as his death warrant neared its midnight expiration. The United States Supreme Court, as well as a federal appeals court in St. Louis, issued temporary stays of execution while they considered his legal arguments. In Little Rock, the Arkansas capital, Gov. Asa Hutchinson monitored developments at the State Capitol.
At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court nearly halted Mr. Lee’s execution, but decided, 5 to 4, to allow the state to proceed with its plan, which had called for eight prisoners to be put to death over less than two weeks. The court’s majority — which included the newest justice, Neil M. Gorsuch — did not explain its decision, but in a dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer complained about how the state had established its execution schedule because of the approaching expiration date of Arkansas’s stock of midazolam.
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