Arkansas has executed Marcel Wayne Williams, the state’s attorney general confirmed, making him the second man to be put to death Monday night — in Arkansas’ first double execution since 1999. Williams was found guilty of murdering Stacy Errickson in 1994, according to CNN.
Arkansas executed Jack Harold Jones on Monday night in the first of two executions scheduled for that evening.
Jones was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips.
“The Phillips family has waited far too long to see justice carried out, and I pray they find peace tonight,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said after the execution.
Marcel Williams was scheduled to follow Jones. The two were among eight inmates Gov. Asa Hutchinson set for execution in April before the state’s supply of sedatives used in lethal injection expires at the end of the month.
Before the second execution could begin, a federal district court judge issued a temporary stay based on claims from Williams’ lawyers that Jones’ death was “torturous and inhumane.” Infirmary staff tried unsuccessfully for 45 minutes to place a line in Jones’ neck, before placing one elsewhere on his body, the emergency motion read.
The state called the claims “utterly baseless” and a federal judge lifted the temporary stay, clearing the way for Williams’ execution to proceed.
‘We hope this will bring closure’
A media witness said Jones’ execution lasted about 14 minutes. Searcy Daily Citizen reporter Tracy Whitaker said Jones appeared coherent as he delivered a two-minute statement focusing on Phillips’ daughter, Lacey, whom Jones beat and left for dead.
She was not present for the execution. “It’s a good thing that it’s done, for her,” Whitaker told CNN affiliate KARK.
Jones was convicted in 1996 of raping and murdering Phillips in the accounting office where she worked as a bookkeeper. She was strangled to death with a coffee pot cord while her daughter Lacey was tied to a chair.
The daughter regained consciousness as police photographers took pictures of the crime scene.
“This evening the rule of law was upheld when the sentence of the jury for Jack Jones was carried out after 20 years of review. The victim’s family has waited patiently for justice during that time. The jury sentenced Jack Jones to death, and his sentence was upheld by judges and reviewed thoroughly in courts of appeal at each level,” Hutchinson said.
“A governor never asks for this responsibility, but I accept it as part of the solemn pledge I made to uphold the law. Jack Jones expressed his willingness to proceed today, and we hope this will help bring closure to the Phillips family.”
How we got to this point
After Hutchinson signed their death warrants the eight inmates joined in a last-minute lawsuit challenging the clemency process. They argued the state’s compressed schedule did not allow time for the state board to consider their cases. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals denied them relief, and only one received a clemency recommendation.
The inmates also sued over the sedative used in the three-drug protocol. Their attorneys argued that the drug midazolam does not effectively prevent a painful death. The lawsuit went to the US Supreme Court, which ultimately denied their motion for a stay.
Williams had argued that he will likely experience severe pain during the execution because of his medical conditions, and that the lethal injection amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals denied him a stay based on that claim and another one arguing ineffective counsel in his trial.
The appeals court also declined inmate Jones’ request for a stay based on a claim that the state’s new lethal injection protocol will inflict cruel and unusual punishment.
Last double execution was 1999
The first execution was carried out on April 20. Ledell Lee became the first person put to death in Arkansas since 2005. He was convicted in 1995 of murdering a woman in her home two years earlier. He maintained up until his death that he was innocent.
Four are on hold pending appeal.
Lee’s execution followed a flurry of court rulings Thursday, capped by the US Supreme Court’s denial of multiple requests for stays of execution.
Amnesty International said it was a “shameful day,” and that the state was treating people “as though they have a sell-by date.”
Arkansas’ last double execution was on September 8, 1999, according to the Department of Corrections.