Execution Halted With Moments to Spare

Apr 17, 2017

After a dizzying day of legal drama, the execution of inmate Don Davis was called off with moments to spare.  Davis, who was taken to a "quiet room" and given his last meal, was not put to death by lethal injection after the US Supreme Court refused to lift a stay from a state court.  The state had made preparations for the execution while seeking an emergency decision from the nation's highest court.  Witnesses were in place when word came shortly before midnight that the justices had denied the request to vacate the stay via a simple, one-sentence decision.

Supporters of Davis argued that he has limited intellectual abilities, and should not be eligible for the death penalty.  Another inmate, Bruce Ward, had his execution originally planned for Monday night stayed by a lower court after his defense argued that he is too mentally ill to comprehend the execution proceedings.  State officials originally sought an order permitting both executions, but later asked for just Don Davis' execution to go forward

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following statement shortly after her request was denied.

The memo from the nation's highest court prevented the execution of Don Davis in one sentence.

“It is heartbreaking that the family of Jane Daniel has once again seen justice delayed. Davis was convicted of his crimes in 1992, and my office took every action it could today to see that justice was carried out. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say and has decided not to lift the stay at this time.

“There are five scheduled executions remaining with nothing preventing them from occurring, but I will continue to respond to any and all legal challenges brought by the prisoners. The families have waited far too long to see justice, and I will continue to make that a priority.”

Get an update from the scene earlier in the evening from Managing Editor Bobby Ampezzan here.

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