The nation’s first double execution since 2000 was carried out in Arkansas on Monday despite substantial protest and the likelihood that the first execution was botched and inhumane.
The double execution of Jack Harold Jones and Marcel Wayne Williams were part of a mass-killing by the state related to the impending expiration of key drugs used in the process. Six others were set to be executed along with Jones and Williams in the span of 11 days, though a court has ordered a stay of execution for four of the eight inmates.
The two death row inmates were executed with the questionable drug cocktail within three hours of one another in the Cummins Unit prison, 75 miles from the state capitol.
Originally, the two were set to be killed within an hour of one another, but after attorneys for Williams witnessed the execution of Jones, they called for an emergency stay of execution on the grounds that the execution they witnessed was “torturous and inhumane.” The stay was issued, but was lifted again an hour later, resulting in Williams’ death.
Williams attorneys argued that several key steps in the first inmate’s execution were botched, including a lengthy and unsuccessful attempt to place a central line in the man’s neck. The attorneys also alleged that when the doctors were performing a “consciousness check,” to ensure that no pain would be felt in the execution, Jones appeared to be moving his lips and “gulping for air.”
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge disputes both accounts, saying that there was “no constitutional violation in Jones’ execution.”
Both men expressed great remorse for the crimes they had committed more than 20 years ago. Both men had been found guilty of violent rape and murder of women, though their attorneys argued not enough had been done to defend both men during their trials, nor bring up pertinent evidence about their mental state and background which might have spared them the death penalty.
The execution of Jones and Williams marks the second and third execution planned by the state after the execution of Lendell Lee last week. Kenneth Williams is set to be executed on Thursday, and then the state will deal with the remaining four inmates who have been granted a stay.