WASHINGTON – Two death-row inmates in Arkansas were executed by lethal injection Monday night about three hours apart in the state’s first double execution since 2000.
Jack H. Jones Sr., 52, was executed shortly after 7 p.m. as scheduled, for raping and murdering Mary Phillips and brutally beating her daughter in 1995. In his final statement, Jones apologized to Phillips’ daughter, Lacy, who was 11 when she saw Jones attack then strangle her mother with a coffee-pot cord. Jones told her: “I hope over time you can learn who I really am and I am not a monster. … Try to understand: I love you like my child.”
Jones also gave his attorney a handwritten statement in which he outlined the ways in which he had tried to become a better person since being in prison. The statement concluded with: “’There are no words that would fully express my remorse for the pain that I caused.”
Jones’ execution commenced at 7:06 p.m. CDT and he was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. CDT.
Minutes later, attorneys for the second inmate, Marcel Williams, convinced a federal judge to briefly delay their client’s execution over concerns about the earlier one. They claimed Jones “was moving his lips and gulping for air,” an account the state’s attorney general denied.
In the emergency filing, Williams’ attorneys wrote that officials spent 45 minutes trying to place an IV line in Jones’ neck before placing it elsewhere. It argued that Williams, who weighs 400 pounds, could face a “torturous” death because of his weight.
Williams, 46, was already in the death chamber when the temporary stay was issued. He was escorted out, then was brought back in about an hour later when the judge lifted her stay.
Williams had been convicted in 1994 for raping and murdering Stacy Errickson after abducting her from a gas station.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson had scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period in April because its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30. The eight executions would have been the most by a state in such a short time period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The inmates sued over the sedative used in the two-drug protocol. The lawsuit went to the Supreme Court, which ultimately denied their motion for a stay.
Arkansas executed one inmate last week and another execution is scheduled for Thursday. Four others have been blocked.
Before last week, Arkansas had not executed anyone since 2005.