LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas intends to execute seven death row inmates between Monday and April 27, a pace never seen since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson initially set four double-executions so the state could use a key execution drug before its April 30 expiration date, but a federal judge stayed one execution, saying prisoner Jason McGehee was entitled to a 30-day comment period following a clemency recommendation. Another federal judge is considering the men’s request for stays of execution.
A look at the seven men who are scheduled to die and their cases:
BRUCE EARL WARD
Ward, 60, was initially convicted in 1990 for the death of a woman found strangled in the men’s room of the Little Rock convenience store where she worked.
A police officer had noticed no one was in the store and pulled up to find Ward walking out of the men’s room. Rebecca Lynn Doss, 18, was dead inside. Surveillance video later revealed Ward had asked Doss for help to open the men’s room door.
Ward’s initial death sentence was overturned because a judge let jurors consider documents related to Ward’s 1977 murder conviction in Pennsylvania. A second death sentence was overturned because a court transcript was filled with errors. A third jury imposed a death sentence in 1997.
Ward is scheduled for execution Monday. A Jefferson County judge on Thursday rejected one stay request, but Ward and inmate Don Davis filed a request for a stay Wednesday, seeking a delay while the U.S. Supreme Court considers questions regarding inmate access to independent mental health experts.
DON WILLIAM DAVIS
Davis, 54, came within six hours of execution in 2010 for the 1990 death of Jane Daniel. The woman was killed in her home after Davis broke in and shot her with a .44-caliber revolver he found there.
The Arkansas Supreme Court halted Davis’ execution seven years ago as it addressed whether legislators had improperly left key details to the prison staff. Justices ultimately tossed out the state’s death-row policies, which contributed to the 12 years that have passed since the last Arkansas execution.
Davis is scheduled to die Monday. He did not seek clemency, but is seeking a stay amid the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of inmate access to independent mental health experts.
STACEY E. JOHNSON
Stacey Johnson, 47, is scheduled to die for killing Carol Heath in 1993. The woman was beaten and strangled and had her throat slit. Heath’s daughter, Ashley, has said she had forgiven Johnson but wants him to admit that he killed her mother. He has refused and maintains his innocence. Her son told the panel that he didn’t understand why Johnson hadn’t been executed yet.
Johnson’s initial conviction was overturned when the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a police officer should not have told jurors that Ashley Heath, then 6 and found incompetent to testify, had picked Johnson out of a photo lineup. She testified at Johnson’s retrial three years later.
DNA evidence included a hair found on Carol Heath’s body. A cigarette butt found in the pocket of a shirt left at a roadside park with Heath’s blood on it also had Johnson’s saliva on it.
Johnson is set for execution April 20.
Lee, 51, was sentenced to die for the 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, who was struck 36 times with a tire tool her husband had given her for protection. He is also serving prison terms for the rapes of a Jacksonville woman and a Jacksonville teenager.
Lee, who struck Reese 36 times, was arrested less than an hour after the slaying after spending some of the $300 he had stolen from her. He had been released on parole 10 weeks before her death after serving time for burglary and theft. DNA evidence linked Lee to other attacks, including the abduction of Christine Lewis, 22.
Lewis was abducted five days before being found beaten, raped and strangled. Jurors in that trial couldn’t reach a decision and prosecutors dropped the case after the state Supreme Court upheld Lee’s death sentence for Reese’s murder.
Lee is scheduled for execution April 20.
JACK HAROLD JONES JR.
Jones, 52, was convicted of killing bookkeeper Mary Phillips in 1995 and trying to kill her daughter, Lacy, during a robbery at an accounting office. Phillips was found naked from the waist down with a cord from a nearby coffee pot tied around her neck. Lacy, left for dead, woke up as police photographed her.
Lacy testified that Jones had visited the accounting office twice on the day her mother died and described his tattoos to investigators. Courts rejected appeals based on Jones’ claim that lawyers didn’t do enough to keep him off death row.
Jones is scheduled for execution April 24.
Williams, 46, was convicted of suffocating a young mother of two after raping her. Stacy Errickson typically carpooled to work in North Little Rock with a friend, but the 22-year-old drove her own truck on Nov. 20, 1994.
Prosecutors say Williams abducted her when she stopped for gas in Jacksonville, then drove her to various ATMs and had her take out about $350. Police found the woman’s hosiery and lunch cooler at a storage facility, then found her beaten and bound body in a park two weeks later.
Williams confessed to killing the woman. His jury deliberated about 30 minutes.
He is scheduled for execution April 24.
Williams, 38, was initially sentenced to life for the 1998 death of University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd. After jurors spared his life, he turned to the girl’s family and taunted them, saying “You thought I was going to die, didn’t you?”
Three weeks after his conviction, he escaped by hiding in a container of hog slop being ferried from a prison kitchen to a prison hog farm outside the main gates. Once out, he killed Cecil Boren, who lived near the prison, and stole a truck. During a chase in southern Missouri the next day, Williams crashed into a water-delivery truck, killing the driver, before police captured him.
While in prison, he said he had killed another person in 1998.
Williams is scheduled for execution April 27.
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