Updated at 7:45pm: The state is holding off on the execution until it hears from the U.S. Supreme Court. Kenneth Williams' death warrant expires at midnight.
A recent series of executions in Arkansas could conclude tonight if the state puts inmate Kenneth Williams to death. He is currently scheduled for lethal injection at 7pm, and his attorneys are spending the day exploring last-minute legal options for a stay.
By early afternoon, Williams had lost all claims to the state Supreme Court but still had a complaint pending in Circuit Court of Pulaski County claiming that he is at high risk for a painful death from the three-drug lethal injection cocktail due to sickle cell trait, Lupus and organic brain damage. His supporters have also claimed that Williams has a low I.Q. (70) and should not be eligible for the death penalty.
Williams was sentenced to death for killing Cecil Boren, a 57-year-old farmer he encountered after his escape from prison in 1999, where he was serving a life term for the murder a year earlier of Dominique "Nikki" Hurd. Hurd was a 19-year-old cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff who was taking pictures with her boyfriend when they were approached by Williams. Williams, who was 19 at the time, later confessed that he had been looking for someone to rob to raise rent money but was also curious about what it might feel like to kill someone.
Williams, who claims that he has had a religious awakening in prison, also wrote a 500 page letter to a newspaper claiming responsibility for the fatal shooting of Jerrell Jenkins, a 36-year-old Pine Bluff resident who was a father to 10 children and step-children.
Williams' fourth victim was Michael Greenwood, a 24-year-old Springfield resident who was killed in a traffic accident as Williams fled from recapture. Greenwood's family has asked for mercy for Williams,
and recently purchased plane tickets so his daughter and toddler granddaughter could visit him before his execution.
Kenneth Williams, 38, is expected to become the fourth and final inmate to be put to death during a recent round of executions. Ledell Lee was executed on April 20, followed by Jack Jones and Marcel Williams on April 24. The double execution made Arkansas the first state to carry out two deaths in one evening since the year 2000.
Arkansas Public Media will be at Cummins Prison on Thursday evening for coverage of the execution.
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