ARKANSAS (USA): LEDELL LEE WAS EXECUTED, THE FIRST IN THE STATE SINCE 2005
April 20, 2017:
Arkansas overcame a flurry of court challenges Thursday that derailed three other executions, putting to death an inmate for the first time in nearly a dozen years as part of a plan that would have been the country's most ambitious since the death penalty was restored in 1976. (Source: time.com, Associated Press, HoC, 20/04/2017)
Ledell Lee's execution was among eight inmates originally scheduled to be put to death before a lethal injection drug expires April 30. He was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, four minutes before his death warrant was due to expire. Lee showed no signs of consciousness two minutes after the start of his execution, which began at 11:44 p.m. Lee made no final statement and showed no apparent signs of suffering during the execution.
Lee, 51, was put on death row in 1995 for the February 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, 26, White. Two more inmates are set to die Monday, and one on April 27. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Lee's execution less than an hour before his death warrant was set to expire at midnight, rejecting a round of last-minute appeals the inmate's attorneys had filed. An earlier ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier says was obtained by misleading the company cleared the way for Lee's execution. Justices on Thursday reversed an order by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray that halted the use of vecuronium bromide, one of three drugs used in the state's lethal injection process, in any execution. McKesson Corp. says the state obtained the drug under false pretenses and that it wants nothing to do with executions. McKesson said it was disappointed in the court's ruling. "We believe we have done all we can do at this time to recover our product," the company said in a statement. Justices also denied an attempt by makers of midazolam and potassium chloride — the two other drugs in Arkansas' execution plan — to intervene in McKesson's fight over the vecuronium bromide. The pharmaceutical companies say there is a public health risk if their drugs are diverted for use in executions, and that the state's possession of the drugs violates rules within their distribution networks. Earlier in the evening, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on a previous batch of appeals with new justice Neil Gorsuch voting with the majority of five.
Lee becomes the 1st inmate to be executed this year in Arkansas, the 28th since the state resumed executions in 1990, the 7th this year in the Usa, and the n° 1449 since the Usa resumed executions in 1977.