USA judge lifts stay on second Arkansas execution

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A USA judge temporarily halted the second of Arkansas' two planned executions late on Monday after the inmate's lawyers argued that the first execution was inhumane due to a flawed procedure.

Williams was pronounced dead 17 minutes after the procedure began at the Cummins Unit in southeast Arkansas.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock, Arkansas, said in a brief order that the execution of Williams could proceed, a little more than an hour after she granted his request for a temporary stay. He was also convicted of attempting to kill Phillips' 11-year-old daughter and was convicted in another rape and killing in Florida.

Arkansas was the first state to do a double execution and the only state to do a triple execution following the 1976 Supreme Court decision that allowed the death penalty to resume.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of one lethal injection drug expires.

Lee's was the first execution in Arkansas since 2005 as a result of a legal battle over the lethal-injection protocol, which was resolved in the state's favor on February 21, leaving just 10 weeks to carry out executions before the drug expires.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling denying Jones's motion that witnesses said "at no time did Lee show any signs of physical distress, such as gasping, groaning or struggling against the restraints". Another inmate, Kenneth Williams, is set for execution Thursday.

For his last meal, Jones had fried chicken, potato logs, beef jerky bites, Butterfinger bars and a chocolate milkshake. Williams had fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos, two sodas and potato logs with ketchup, Graves said.

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Before Lee's execution Thursday, Arkansas hadn't put an inmate to death since 2005. He said that while the courts have upheld Arkansas' lethal injection protocol in general, the drugs will have a different impact on him because of his poor health. Both argued it would be hard for the execution team to find a suitable vein to support an intravenous line.

Jones, 52, lost a leg to diabetes and was on insulin.

The poor health of both men, their lawyers claimed, could make it hard for them to respond during a consciousness check following a megadose of midazolam.

The last state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day was Texas, which executed two killers in August 2000.

A second execution is planned for later Monday, though inmate Marcel Williams still has pending appeals. The only quicker pace included quadruple executions in 1926 and 1930. Last Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted a reprieve for two other of the condemned inmates - Don Davis and Bruce Ward - based on claims about their mental health, as well as a debate over whether expert witnesses can testify for both parties in a case.

On the morning of November 20, 1994 in Jacksonville, Ark., Williams forced motorist Stacy Errickson, 22, at gunpoint into the passenger seat of her auto at a gas station and forced her to withdraw money from 18 automatic teller machines for a sum totaling $350.

"Your wish is and always has been that I die", he wrote. The state has said it has no new source for midazolam.

Jones was convicted of raping and strangling Mary Phillips at a Bald Knob accounting office on June 6, 1995. Phillips was found naked from the waist down with the cord from a coffee pot wrapped around her neck. At the hearing, his attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, read a letter addressed to Phillips' daughter. Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.