Latest: Arkansas judge blocks state from using lethal drug
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas’ efforts to execute seven inmates before the end of the month (all times local):
An Arkansas judge has blocked the state from using a lethal injection drug in its upcoming executions of six men after a company says the drug wasn’t sold to be used for capital punishment.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order Friday preventing Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide in the executions. The executions have been scheduled to start Monday night.
McKesson, a medical supply company, has said the prison system bought the drug believing it would be used for medical purposes. The company has said it had been reassured the drug would be returned and even issued a refund, but it never was.
Griffen’s order came the same day the state Supreme Court halted the execution of one of two men scheduled to die Monday night.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted the execution of one of two inmates facing lethal injection Monday under the state’s multiple execution plan.
Justices on Friday issued a stay in the execution of Bruce Ward, one of seven inmates the state plans to put to death before the end of the month. Ward’s attorneys had asked for the stay after a Jefferson County judge said she didn’t have the authority to halt Ward’s execution.
Arkansas has scheduled the executions to occur before the state’s supply of midazolam, one of three drugs used in its lethal injection protocol, expires at the end of the month. The inmates have filed a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal court to halt the executions.
Death-penalty opponents are gathered on the front steps of Arkansas’ Capitol to protest the state’s plan to execute seven inmates before the end of the month.
The actor Johnny Depp appeared alongside Damien Echols, who spent nearly 18 years on Arkansas’ death row before he was freed in 2011 in a plea deal in which he maintained his innocence. Depp was among several celebrities who lobbied for the release of Echols and the two other men convicted in the “West Memphis Three” case.
The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Friday rally comes as a federal judge weighs whether to grant the inmates’ requests to block their upcoming executions. The first executions are set for Monday night.
Attorneys for the seven Arkansas inmates facing lethal injection by the end of the month are asking the state Supreme Court to halt their executions.
The inmates on Friday asked the state justices to issue a stay while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up their request to reconsider its decision to not weigh in on a ruling upholding Arkansas’ lethal injection law. The first of the executions are set to begin Monday night with the lethal injection of two condemned killers.
The filing is among a flurry of lawsuits in state and federal courts aimed at halting the executions. Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005.
A medical supply company says a drug it sold to Arkansas that will be used to execute seven inmates before the end of the month was not intended to be used for lethal injection.
McKesson said it’s considering legal action to get the drug back.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement released Thursday night that it sold vecuronium bromide to Arkansas’ prison system believing it would be used for medical purposes. McKesson says once it learned otherwise, it requested the drug be returned, but it never was.
The drug is made by Pfizer. The drugmaker says McKesson sold the drug to Arkansas without its knowledge. Two other pharmaceutical companies have asked a judge to prohibit Arkansas from using their drugs in the upcoming multiple executions.