Arkansas executions 'heinous' and 'shameful' says Amnesty

Arkansas will become the first U.S. state in 17 years to hold two executions on the same day, if two inmates are put to death as planned on Monday evening.

Two Arkansas killers set to die Monday in the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years acknowledge they're guilty but fear the lethal injections could subject them to excruciating pain due to their various health problems.

Jack Jones, who was convicted of the rape and murder of Mary Phillips in 1995, was administered the lethal drug cocktail and was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m.

Williams was convicted in the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson.

Marcel Williams' attorney persuaded U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to temporarily block his execution, but the judge lifted that order at 9:22 p.m.

According to the Philadelphia attorneys, one juror who worked at the prison told other jurors during penalty-phase deliberations of Williams' trial "about her experiences working in the prison and about the differences in housing for life- and death-sentenced prisoners".

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Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said while other states have adopted policies that limit the scope of what witnesses may observe in executions, Arkansas' rules appeared especially troubling. The Supreme Court blocked four of the rushed executions, the Times reports. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of the sedative midazolam expires on April 30.

Williams was declared dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the chemicals were released into his body. The Arkansas eight filed such a claim, arguing that midazolam - the drug used to render inmates unconscious in botched executions in other states - does not reliably prevent a painful death. "Try to understand. I love you like my child", said a statement of apology issued by Jones. Williams' attorneys argued his weight could complicate his lethal injection.

Speaking on behalf of Errickson's family, Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement: "After more than 20 years, justice has prevailed".

The 8th Circuit rejected Jones' stay request; a decision was still pending there as of midday Monday for Williams.

However, an appellate court reinstated his death sentence saying that because of a procedural error, Williams should never have received a hearing.

Mary Phillips' family said their comments after Jones' death was a way to make sure the emphasis of the executions remains on the victims.

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When she came around, her mother was dead, naked from the waist down and had a cord from a nearby coffee pot wrapped around her neck.

Before Ledell Lee's execution last Thursday, Arkansas hadn't put an inmate to death since 2005.

Because the microphone was off during Monday's first execution, witnesses disagreed on whether Jack Jones was struggling for air after being given 500 milligrams of midazolam. In an emergency request for a stay, Williams' lawyers argued his execution "is likely to be even more torturous" because the two men share similar medical conditions, including diabetes and neuropathy, which may impede the sedative in taking effect.

Instead, they claimed, he remained conscious, moving his lips and "gulping for air" after it was administered. The state had initially planned to execute eight people within 11 days this month-an unprecedented rate of executions in modern USA history. Williams admitted responsibility to the state Parole Board last month. Kenneth Dewayne Williams is scheduled for Thursday, April 27, and he was convicted of capital murder in 2000.

Including Jones and Williams, nine people have been executed in the United States this year, four in Texas, three in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Virginia. He told the jury that since he was bipolar himself, he knew that Jones wasn't bipolar.

Jim Willett, the warden who helped carry out Texas' last multiple execution on the same day in 2000, said "if you can do it right once, why can't you do it twice the same day?"

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