The fourth death row inmate to be executed in Arkansas in the last eight days convulsed in the minutes before his death resulting in the man’s lawyers to ask for an investigation, which the governor rejected, reports Fox News.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that nothing more than a “routine review” needed to be conducted following an execution that he says went according to protocol. He said there was no pain involved for the inmate.
“It was obvious to me there was not any indication of pain. This ten seconds of movements on his part was described as coughing without noise.”
The governor was not present at the execution, which was one of several the state intended to carry out before a drug used that’s used in the executions expired.
An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution Thursday night said that the inmate, Kenneth Williams, began to violently jerk and convulse against the straps holding him down. His body lurched 15 times before slowing down and convulsing five more times at a slower rate.
Williams’ legal team demanded an inquiry saying the accounts from those who witnessed the “problematic execution” were “horrifying.”
Hutchinson responded that the coughing is just a possible side effect of the drug Williams’ was administered.
“People react to drugs in different ways sometimes but that seems to be consistent with the indications on the drug inserts,” Hutchinson said.
J.R. Davis, a spokesman for Hutchinson, said that the convulsions were just “an involuntary muscular reaction” that is a common side effect of surgical sedative midazolam, the first of three drugs administered.
Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, blasted the governor’s response — saying that midazolam is known to have harmful side effects and that this fact alone should concern the governor.
Midazolam’s well-documented risks and role in numerous botched executions should have given Governor Asa Hutchinson pause. Instead, he ignored the dangers and undermined our state’s moral standing – all to beat the expiration date on a failed drug.
This execution was one of eight scheduled executions over an 11-day span which would have been the most in such a short time since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. However, the state issued stays on four of the executions. Of the four that were conducted, two of them were the first double execution in the United States since 2000.
Williams was sentenced to death for the murder of former deputy warden Cecil Boren after he escaped from prison in 1999. He was serving a life sentence for murdering a college cheerleader. After he stole Boren’s truck, he was caught in a high-speed police chase which ended in him crashing into Michael Greenwood’s vehicle and killing him.
Crime Online recently reported that Williams was able to be reunited with his daughter in almost two decades when Greenwood’s family paid for the woman’s plane tickets so she could see him.
[Feature photo: Arkansas Department of Corrections]