17 October, Tuesday


Arkansas executes Ledell Lee in first death penalty use in 12 years

World

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Arkansas has executed Ledell Lee in the US state's first use of the death penalty in 12 years.

It is the first of a series of executions expected after the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling blocking the use of a lethal injection.

Justices reversed the ban on the use of vecuronium bromide, one of the three drugs used by the state.

Lee's third request to stay the execution was denied.

Instead of a last meal, he asked to receive communion, said an official.

The state had planned to carry out eight executions in 11 days, before its supply of the lethal injection drug, midazolam, expired on 30 April.

The first three executions were cancelled due to various court rulings.

Lee told the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in a recent interview that he was innocent of the murder of Debra Reese, and death row was like a "living nightmare".

The other inmate due to die on Thursday has been given a stay to make time for advanced DNA testing that his lawyers say could prove his innocence.

Stacey Johnson was convicted of the murder of Carol Heath, who was beaten and had her throat slit in her flat in 1993.

The ruling on Thursday paves the way for the series of executions the state had planned this month.

Like many US states, Arkansas has struggled to find the drugs it needs to carry out executions. Its last was in 2005.

What this means - Aleem Maqbool, BBC News

The frenetic filing of lawsuits and appeals in Arkansas has a profound impact on those awaiting execution, on their families and on the relatives of their victims.

The widower of one victim told me that if he had been told from the beginning that his wife's killer would be in prison for life without parole, he might have been able to move on.

But, he said, to have the prospect of the man's execution arise and disappear over the years means reliving the hurt of the murder itself, and that every stay of execution now feels like an insult to his wife.

What this highlights is how hard it has become for states to kill by lethal injection, with botched executions and drug companies saying they do not want their products associated with the practice.

What did all these men do?

The condemned, left to right from top, are: Don Davis, Stacey Johnson, Jack Jones and Ledell Lee; left to right, bottom: Jason McGehee, Bruce Ward, Kenneth Williams and Marcel Williams
 

Bruce Ward - Strangled teenage shop clerk Rebecca Doss

Don Davis - Condemned for the execution-style killing of Jane Daniel as he burgled her home

Stacey Johnson - Murdered Carol Heath, who was beaten, strangled and had her throat slit

Ledell Lee - Bludgeoned Debra Reese to death with a tyre iron her husband had given her for protection

Jack Jones - Condemned for the rape and murder of accounts clerk Mary Phillips, and the nearly fatal beating of her 11-year-old daughter

Marcel Williams - Raped and murdered Stacey Erickson, after kidnapping her from a convenience store

Kenneth Williams - Murdered farmer Cecil Boren during an escape from prison where Williams had been incarcerated for murdering cheerleader Dominique Hurd

 

BBC

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