U.S. Supreme Court blocks first of 8 planned Arkansas executions in 11 days

Death chamber in Lucasville, Ohio, circa 2001
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Monday night, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay from the Arkansas Supreme Court that was preventing the state from carrying out its first execution since 2005. The move by the U.S. high court effectively quashed the push by Arkansas to execute eight death row inmates, two at a time, by the end of April, when its supply of the sedative midazolam, one of the drugs in its lethal-injection cocktail, expires.

In a dramatic and chaotic series of rulings on Monday, the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the scheduled executions of Don Davis, 55, and Bruce Ward, 60, both convicted of murder during what appear to be robberies, after their lawyers raised questions about their mental competency. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the stay on Davis, whose execution order expired at midnight.

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