Two inmates are scheduled for execution Thursday night with three more executions planned for next week.
The rulings came two days after the state's high court stayed two executions set for Monday.
Late Wednesday night the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed the execution of Stacey Johnson who was set to die by lethal injection Thursday, Reuters reports sending his case has been sent back to trial for reconsideration of DNA evidence.
State officials appealed the circuit court judge's order on Thursday and are expected to contest others that may block their path, much as new legal filings are expected by the death-row inmates seeking to halt the executions.
"I have ultimate respect for the court and I'm not going to question individual decisions but I would say there is frustration among the Legislature as to the court's continued refusal to allow an execution to go through", said Sen.
The Associated Press reported that "Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state will appeal that ruling". Hutchinson said that it was not his preference, but that it is necessary because one of the state's lethal-injection drugs will expire at the end of the month.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he is "surprised and disappointed" that the state Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution to Stacey Johnson, who was scheduled to be put to death Thursday. Both men are scheduled for execution on April 20, 2017. With a 500 mg dose listed in the state's execution protocol, Arkansas expects that the inmates will not be aware they are dying.
Lawyers for the state said earlier this month that the prisoners know the state's supply a sedative that's part of its execution plan expires April 30 and that it would be "impossible" to execute the prisoners because "Arkansas has no source of midazolam" beyond that already in stock. "Harm that could not be addressed by (monetary) damages", Gray said in a ruling from the bench, siding with the medical supply company McKesson Corp., which sued to stop Arkansas from using its drug to kill condemned inmates.
VARNER, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas on Thursday canceled the third of eight planned executions in the face of court challenges, but hoped to push ahead later in the night with its first execution since 2005. Arkansas department of correction deputy director Rory Griffin said he didn't keep records of the texts, but McKesson salesman Tim Jenkins did.
"McKesson was duped. into providing the drugs", lawyer John Tull said, arguing the company could see its reputation and bottom line suffer.
Circuit Judge Alice Gray has stopped the state's use of vecuronium bromide until she can determine the rightful owner. Another state judge granted such an order last week, but he was quickly criticized by Rutledge and others for attending a death-penalty protest the same day and was removed from the case by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which vacated his order. Lee is fighting in federal and state courts for a similar stay.
The stay for Johnson stemmed from a bid to have an evidentiary hearing related to his request for DNA testing to prove his innocence. I know that this is disappointing and hard for Carol Heath's family and her two children who were home at the time of the murder. Four of the eight have been granted stays of execution.
She argued that a fellow death row inmate Ledell Lee - also scheduled to die Thursday - deserved the same right to a hearing.
The state originally set eight executions over an 11-day period in April, which would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Three justices dissented from the decision to stay Johnson's execution. All three joined in a dissent saying the stay in this case "gives uncertainty to any case ever truly being final in the Arkansas Supreme Court".