Arkansas performs first execution in 12 years after Supreme Court denies stays

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He received a legal injection cocktail of three drugs, including one that has sparked sharp debate.

I also figured the proposed execution schedule, eight men in such a short time frame, would give courts pause. Stacey Johnson, 47, won a state Supreme Court ruling in favor of further DNA testing. Lee was convicted in 1995 in the murder of Debra Reese, 26, two years prior, reports CNN.

Lee was arrested less than an hour after the killing after spending some of the $300 he had stolen from Mrs Reese. Central Standard Time, 12 minutes after the execution began.

The use of vecuronium bromide has also faced legal pushback, with McKesson Medical-Surgical-a distributor for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer-accusing Arkansas of concealing its plans to use the drug for capital punishment.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11.46pm local time, just four minutes before his death warrant had been due to run out. "Lee just because its supply of lethal drugs are expiring at the end of the month denied him the opportunity to conduct DNA testing that could have proven his innocence", Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project, said in a statement. The U.S. Supreme Court almost halted his execution at one point in the evening but ultimately decided, 5 to 4, that the state could proceed.

At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court almost halted Mr. Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented separately, each tackling a facet of Lee's Eighth Amendment claim.

The United States Supreme Court lifted the stay of execution almost 30 minutes before Lee's death warrant was set to expire.

Attorneys for the State of Arkansas sought an expedited process to allow for the execution of Lee and seven other death row inmates to proceed before the state's lethal injection drugs expire at the end of April.

"If the State of Arkansas was able to procure any of our USA -manufactured drugs for use in lethal injections despite these controls - which it will not confirm or deny to us - it was not directly from us, nor with our knowledge", Hikma Pharmaceuticals spokeswoman Brooke Clarke wrote.

That means the state's three-drug protocol - including a controversial sedative, midazolam, that has resulted in botched executions elsewhere - can be used for any executions that survive other challenges.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that states could use midazolam, but that has not stopped its use from tangling up executions in courts or leaving states struggling to obtain the drug. Lee's execution ended a week of court motions and movements to keep him and the others that Gov. Asa Hutchinson had scheduled to die by lethal injection.

The Hill reported that in 2016, America had the lowest number of new death row inmates since the reinstatement of the death penalty back in 1976. He was executed on April 20, 2017. John Moritz of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, from left, Sean Murphy of The Associated Press and Marine Glisovic witnessed Lee's death.

Arkansas officials say such an order effectively blocks all the scheduled executions because they have been unable to get more of that drug, which is used as a paralytic as part of the state's three-drug lethal-injection procedure.

While the high court was considering Lee's fate, the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied multiple requests to halt Lee's execution.

"He knew there was a chance that not all of them would go through", said J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Hutchinson. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected stay requests from Ledell Lee, allowing his execution to proceed at the prison near Varner, Ark.

State officials said Friday that they were prepared to move forward with the remaining executions, starting with a double execution on Monday and a single execution on Thursday.

Four of the planned executions have been blocked by the courts, but three more men are scheduled to die over the coming days.