Two condemned killers in Arkansas are set to die Monday in the first double execution in the United States since 2000 — unless they get last-minute reprieves.
Executions for Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, convicted of rape and murder, are set for Monday evening; they would be the second and third in Arkansas this month. The state set an aggressive plan to execute several inmates before one of its lethal injection drugs expires at the end of April.
Arkansas initially planned eight executions over 11 days, which would have been the most by a state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. However, courts have blocked four of the eight.
The last state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day was Texas, which executed two killers in August 2000, The Associated Press reported.
Jones and Williams have both requested emergency stays of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to intervene. Attorneys have claimed the lethal injection drug midazolam — combined with the killers’ health problems — could lead to botched executions, Fox 16 reported.
Williams’ “morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung),” his attorneys wrote in a court filing asking justices to block the execution.
In Jones’ case, attorneys said he takes a daily dose of two medications to treat chronic pain, and they worry those drugs could desensitize him to the effects of midazolam, which is a sedative and the first drug used in Arkansas’ lethal injection protocol.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in court documents Monday that the filings were “another dilatory and piecemeal litigation tactic,” and added that the executions were lawful.
Williams was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he kidnapped from a gas station in central Arkansas.
Williams abducted and raped two other women in the days before he was arrested in Errickson’s death, investigators said. Williams admitted responsibility to the state Parole Board last month.
“I wish I could take it back, but I can’t,” Williams told the board.
Jones got the death penalty for the 1995 rape and killing of Mary Phillips. He strangled her with the cord to a coffee pot.
In a letter earlier this month, Jones said he was ready to be killed by the state.
“I forgive my executioners; somebody has to do it,” wrote Jones, who had a leg amputated in prison because of diabetes and uses a wheelchair.
The letter, which his attorney read aloud at his clemency hearing, went on to say: “I shall not ask to be forgiven, for I haven’t the right.”
The state killed Ledell Lee last week in the state’s first use of capital punishment since 2005. State officials said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires on April 30.
A federal judge on Friday rejected requests from Jones and Williams to stop their executions over their health concerns. Two federal judges ruled against the inmates in separate cases Sunday. One denied a stay of execution to Williams, saying that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in the case. Another federal judge denied the inmates’ request for changes to the rules for witnesses to view the executions.
Fox News’ Shannon Bream and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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