The state has executed two convicted murderers in a bid to use a lethal drug before it expires. Resisting last-second calls to stop the executions, officials said it brought "much-needed peace" to the victims' families.
The US state of Arkansas on Monday executed two inmates in less than four hours, marking its first double execution since 1999.
Jack Jones, the first inmate to be executed, had been convicted of the rape and killing of Mary Phillips in 1995 and attempted murder of her 11-year-old daughter. Jones had also been convicted of rape and murder in the state of Florida.
Before his execution, Jones had his attorney readout a letter expressing remorse for his crimes, saying he made every effort to be a good person upon his arrival at prison, including practicing Buddhism and studying physics.
"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," Jones said in the handwritten letter, circulated by local media. For his final spoken words, he apologized to Phillips' daughter, saying he loved her "like my child."
Lawyers representing Marcel Williams, the second inmate to executed, attempted to block the execution, arguing that Jones' had been botched and he "was moving his lips and gulping for air."
Second execution goes forward
Williams' "morbid obesity makes it likely that either the IV line cannot be placed or that it will be placed in error, thus causing substantial damage (like a collapsed lung)," his lawyers wrote in an earlier court filing.
Although a federal judge approved a temporary stay, she rescinded it after an hour following a short hearing, effectively paving the way for the second execution. Williams did not offer any final words, according to witness reports.
Williams was executed for the rape and killing of Stacy Errickson in 1994. He had kidnapped her from a gas station. He also raped two other women in the days leading up to Errickson's murder.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said justice had been served to the families of the victims. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who resisted last-minute appeals to block the executions, said she is hopeful they brought "much-needed peace."
Earlier this month, Arkansas had planned eight back-to-back executions over an 11-day period in a bid to use one of the drugs in its lethal injection cocktail before it expired. However, a series of federal and state court rulings blocked several of them from taking place, citing the use of the lethal drugs in "botched" executions. Authorities have scheduled another execution on Thursday.
ls/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)