25 April 2017, The Tablet

Arkansas kills two prisoners as last-minute court order delays second execution

'No words' to express 'remorse for pain I caused' Jack Jones tells victims' family before he died

Lawyers for the second of two prisoners scheduled to be killed by lethal injection by Arkansas state on the same day dramatically halted his execution after it was suggested the first execution had been botched.

Marcel Williams, 46, was granted a temporary stay of execution by US District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock, Arkansas, as Williams attorneys claimed Jones was still moving more than five minutes after he received the sedative, Midazolam. But eye witness accounts described Jones's lips moving after he finished his last words but said there were no signs of distress, according to Reuters. Baker lifted the court order after just over an hour’s delay.

Arkansas state carried out two executions on the same day to become the first US state to put more than one inmate to death on the same day since Texas in 2000. Williams was executed more than three hours after the execution of Jack Jones, 52, according to officials at Cummins Unit prison. 

The two men were among eight that the state had initially planned to execute over the course of 11 days this month because its supply of Midazolam was due to expire. Four executions have been placed on hold by court orders. Governor Asa Hutchinson said he hoped the executions would bring closure to the victim's families.

In his final words, Jones apologised to the young girl he left for dead, now a grown woman. "I hope over time you could learn who I really am and I am not a monster," he said, according to reporter witnesses. 

Through his lawyer, he published a statement,which said: “I want people to know that when I came to prison I made up my mind that I would be a better person when I left than when I came in. I had no doubt in my mind that I would make every effort to do this. I'd like to think that I've accomplished this. I made every effort to be a good person — I practiced Buddhism and studied physics. I met the right people and did the right things. There are no words that would fully express my remorse for the pain that I caused.”

Williams did not offer any last words, witnesses told local media. They said he may have received more than one dose of Midazolam and that he was breathing heavily for a few minutes after the initial injection. The time between the first injection and the pronouncement of death was 17 minutes, state officials said.

Jones was the second person executed in Arkansas since 2005, after the state put Ledell Lee to death last week. Arkansas’ next scheduled execution is on Thursday.

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