VARNER, Ark. (AP) — After going nearly 12 years without executing an inmate, Arkansas now has executed three in a few days — including two in one night.
Jack Jones and Marcel Williams received lethal injections on the same gurney Monday night, just about three hours apart. It was the first double execution in the United States since 2000.
Williams’ execution was delayed after a judge agreed to temporarily halt it over claims that the Jones execution wasn’t carried out properly. Williams was briefly removed from the death chamber, then returned after the stay was lifted.
Jones argued his health conditions could lead to a painful death. He gave a lengthy last statement, his final words: “I’m sorry.”
Before last week, Arkansas hadn’t had an execution since 2005 or a double execution since 1999.
An Arkansas prisons spokesman says the first inmate executed Monday night was speaking to the Arkansas Department of Correction director shortly after his lethal injection began.
Spokesman Solomon Graves says Jack Jones was talking to prisons director Wendy Kelley at the start of his execution, which lasted 14 minutes. Shortly after Jones’ execution ended, attorneys for another inmate set to die Monday argued in a court filing that “Jones was moving his lips and gulping for air.”
But Graves said it was his understanding that Jones “was apologizing to Director Kelley and thanking her for the way she has treated him since she’s been director.” The microphone was turned off in the death chamber at this point so any comments were not audible to media witnesses.
An Arkansas inmate who was executed Monday night was taken out of the death chamber temporarily after a judge issued a stay that delayed his execution.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson says it’s “a serious and reflective time” in Arkansas but that residents should know that justice has been carried out.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, whose office fought back several last-minute appeals, said she’s hopeful that Williams’ execution brings “much-needed peace” to Errickson’s children, who are now adults.
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