Two men were put to death in Arkansas on Monday night, the first time a state has conducted two death sentences in one day since 2000.
Convicted murderers Jack Jones and Marcel Williams received the lethal injection cocktail at at 7:06 p.m. CT and 10:16 p.m. CT, respectively, CNN reported on April 25. Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m. and Williams at 10:33 p.m.
According to NBC News, J.R. Davis, a spokesperson for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, described the executions as “flawless.” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the executions.
“After several years of delay, Stacy Errickson’s family and friends have seen justice carried out for her brutal death on November 20, 1994. Stacy was a young mother of two when she was kidnapped, raped and strangled to death with the drawstring from the hood of her own jacket,” Rutledge said. “I hope that tonight’s lawful execution brings much-needed peace to all of Stacy’s loved ones, particularly her now-adult children.”
Jones and Williams are the second and third of eight inmates originally scheduled for execution between April 17 and 27. Hutchinson stated that the reasoning for the quick succession of executions was because the state’s supply of a key lethal injection drug — midzaloam — expires at the end of April.
Arkansas courts blocked four of the eight scheduled executions, but the state executed Ledell Lee on April 20, only minutes before his death warrant expired, NBC News reported. The first person put to death in Arkansas since 2005, Lee was convicted in 1995 of murdering a woman in her home in 1993 and claimed innocence until his death, according to CNN.
According to NBC News, Williams did not make a final statement before his execution, but Jones made a lengthy and apologetic statement, including direct apologies to his victims’ families. After Jones’ execution, Williams’ lawyers claimed that the first execution was “torturous and inhumane,” prompting a federal district judge to issue a temporary stay on Williams’ execution, according to CNN. However, the state called the lawyers’ claims “utterly baseless” while a federal judge lifted the temporary stay, and Williams was executed soon after.
Dr. Matthew Swindle, assistant professor of criminal justice, said that the state’s choice to carry out multiple executions within such a short timeframe is constitutional, both on a state and national level.
“Faced with the prospect of carrying out the execution in April or continuing to delay the execution of inmates who committed their crimes between 18 and 28 years ago, the State has chosen to follow through with administering the sentence and seeing justice done for the family members of the crime victims,” Swindle said.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Jones’ and Williams’ lethal injections were the first consecutive executions in the United States since Texas carried out the death sentences of Brian Roberson and Oliver Cruz on August 9, 2000. According to the Department of Corrections, the last double execution in Arkansas was on Sept. 8, 1999, when Allen Willett and Mark Gardener were put to death.