Latest: Attorney pleased with order blocking execution

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2017 4:07 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas' plan to execute eight inmates later this month: (all times local):

3 p.m.

An attorney for an Arkansas death row inmate whose lethal injection was halted by a judge says there's little for the state to be proud of in the same ruling that allowed several other executions scheduled for this month to move forward.

Assistant federal public defender John Williams said Thursday that attorneys for Jason McGehee were pleased with U.S. District Court Judge D. Price Marshall Jr.'s order blocking McGehee's April 27 execution.

Marshall said at least five of the scheduled executions could go forward even though he found that the state broke some rules and policies. Williams said Marshall was emphatic that the state's clemency process has been "shoddy and arbitrary in many respects."

Prosecutors say McGehee directed the 1996 fatal assault of a 15-year-old who had told police about a theft ring.

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2 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it won't halt the lethal injection of two death row inmates scheduled to be executed this month.

Justices on Thursday rejected separate requests by Stacey Eugene Johnson and Ledell Lee to stay their executions scheduled for April 20. Johnson had asked the court to allow him to seek new testing of evidence from his murder conviction in the 1993 death of Carol Heath. The evidence includes hairs found at Heath's apartment.

Lee said the judge in his murder trial overstepped his bounds in fighting an effort to have Lee's appointed attorney replaced.

The court didn't elaborate on its reason for denying the requests in the separate one-page orders.

Arkansas is scheduled several inmates over a 10-day period beginning April 17. The stay requests are among several court challenges by the inmates aimed at halting the unprecedented multiple execution plan.

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12:55 p.m.

A spokesman for Arkansas' attorney general says the state will continue to defend its plan for multiple executions at the end of the month, saying that the victims' families deserve to see justice in the cases.

Judd Deere is spokesman for Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. He noted that a federal judge on Thursday only blocked one of the eight executions scheduled for this month.

Deere says Rutledge will respond to all legal challenges that might occur "as the prisoners continue to use all available means to delay their lawful sentences."

The first two executions are set for April 17, though other legal challenges are pending.

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Noon

A federal judge has blocked the execution of one of the eight inmates Arkansas was planning to put to death this month.

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. issued the decision Thursday in the case of Jason McGehee. The Arkansas Parole Board a day earlier had recommended that Gov. Asa Hutchinson grant mercy to McGehee.

With a key lethal injection drug expiring at the end of the month, the Arkansas Department of Correction hopes to execute eight men in a 10-day period beginning April 17.