The Latest: Ex-prison officials warn against executions plan

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Posted: Mar 29, 2017 6:06 PM
The Latest: Ex-prison officials warn against executions plan

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Nearly two dozen former prisons officials from across the country are asking Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to modify an order setting eight executions for a 10-day period next month.

Arkansas hasn't put any prisoner to death in nearly 12 years and wants to kill eight men by lethal injection before a key execution drug expires at the end of April. The 23 officials who worked in the corrections industry say there are challenges in conducting executions and that there is "little margin for error."

Hutchinson said the Arkansas prison system was satisfied with the current schedule and confident in its ability to carry out its protocols.

The former corrections officials say the prison staff could be under increased stress, and that Arkansas' interest in justice would not be served if an execution is botched.

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3:40 p.m.

The Arkansas Parole Board is recommending the governor reject a convicted murderer's request to be spared from lethal injection next month, knocking down one of several efforts to halt the state's unprecedented plan to conduct four double executions over a 10-day period.

The board on Wednesday told Gov. Asa Hutchinson that Marcel Williams' clemency request was without merit. The ultimate decision on whether to spare Williams' life rests with Hutchinson, who scheduled the eight executions last month.

The panel recommended Monday Hutchinson reject clemency for two other convicted killers scheduled for execution next month. The panel is scheduled to hold hearings on the remaining clemency requests from two other inmates on Friday. The other three of the eight have not applied for clemency.

Williams is set to die April 24.

Arkansas has not carried out an execution since 2005.

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2:55 p.m.

Attorneys for an Arkansas inmate facing lethal injection next month are asking a state judge to block his execution, saying he's mentally incompetent to be put to death.

Convicted murderer Bruce Ward asked a Jefferson County judge Wednesday to issue a preliminary injunction preventing his April 17 execution. Ward is among eight inmates the state plans to put to death over a 10-day period.

Ward has been on death row since 1990 in the death of Rebecca Lynn Doss, a clerk found strangled in the men's room of a Little Rock convenience store. The filing argues that Ward is a diagnosed schizophrenic with no rational understanding of his impending execution.

The filing is among a flurry of attempts in state and federal courts to block the state's unprecedented multiple execution schedule.

Arkansas hasn't executed an inmate since 2005.

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11:14 a.m.

One of eight Arkansas death row inmates facing lethal injection next month is asking the state's highest court to block his execution so evidence from his murder trial can be retested.

Stacey Eugene Johnson asked the state Supreme Court Wednesday to stay his execution scheduled for April 20, one of the four double execution dates the state has set over a 10-day period.

Johnson asked justices to allow him to seek new testing of evidence from his conviction in the 1993 death of Carol Heath. The evidence includes hairs found at Heath's apartment.

The request is among a flurry of filings in state and federal courts by the inmates aimed at halting the multiple executions. The state Parole Board on Monday recommended Gov. Asa Hutchinson reject Johnson's request for clemency.