Arkansas carries out first double execution in U.S. since 2000

Jack Jones and Marcel Williams received lethal injections on the same gurney Monday night, just about three hours apart

FILE - This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams. The two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday, April 24, 2017, in what could be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years have asked an appeals court to halt their lethal injections because of poor health. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP, File)
FILE - This combination of undated file photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Jack Jones, left, and Marcel Williams. The two Arkansas inmates scheduled to be put to death Monday, April 24, 2017, in what could be the nation's first double execution in more than 16 years have asked an appeals court to halt their lethal injections because of poor health. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP, File)

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.

An escort team that included several guards wearing helmets and visors in front of their faces brought Marcel Williams into the death chamber two times — once at 8:04 p.m. and back at 9:29 p.m., moments after a federal judge lifted her stay.
A prison spokesman said Williams was allowed to leave the death chamber during the stay so he could use the restroom.
Williams’ execution began at 10:16 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. He had labored breathing, then grimaced slightly before losing consciousness.
That’s according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed Marcel Williams’ execution.
Williams took several deep breaths shortly after the lethal injection began, and his breathing appeared to stop about 8 minutes after the start.
Williams weighed 400 pounds, and his attorneys had argued that his lethal injection could cause excessive pain because of his health.Williams was executed Monday night. He was sentenced to death for the 1994 killing of Stacy Errickson, whom he’d kidnapped and strangled.

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.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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