Arkansas carries out first execution in nearly 12 years despite legal challenges

Arkansas carries out first execution in nearly 12 years despite legal challenges

VARNER, ARK.—Arkansas carried out its first execution in nearly a dozen years despite a flurry of legal challenges that had spared three convicted killers, but courts still could scuttle the remainder of the nation’s most ambitious death penalty schedule since capital punishment was restored in 1976.Ledell Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, four minutes before his death warrant was due to expire at midnight, capping a chaotic week of legal wrangling. Arkansas originally wanted to put eight inmates to death before the state’s supply of midazolam, one of three drugs used in its lethal injection process, expires at the end of April.Three of those executions were cancelled this week because of court decisions. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay. But Arkansas wants to put two other inmates to death Monday, and one next Thursday.Read more: Judge’s anti-death-penalty protest sparks outrageArticle Continued BelowArkansas governor signs bill allowing concealed guns at colleges, government buildingsLee, 51, was put on death row for the 1993 death of his neighbour Debra Reese, whom Lee struck 36 times with a tire tool her husband had given her for protection. Lee was arrested less than an hour after the killing after spending some of the $300 he had stolen from Reese.After a hiatus of nearly 12 years, the execution was carried out without any apparent glitches. There had been concern because midazolam was used in some flawed executions in other states. Lee showed no signs of consciousness two minutes after the lethal injection, which began at 11:44 p.m. With arms extended, covered with a sheet, his head and hands covered with leather straps, Lee made no final statement and showed no apparent signs of suffering during the execution.

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