Arkansas' multiple execution plan appearing to unravel

"We are grateful that the Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution for Bruce Ward so that they may consider the serious questions presented about his sanity".

"Bruce Ward was convicted of capital murder in 1990 and the State Supreme Court has previously upheld his conviction", the statement said. Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered outside the Arkansas Capitol on Friday to protest the state's plan, including the actor Johnny Depp and former Arkansas death row inmate Damien Echols, who was freed in 2011.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge declined to comment to the Washington Post about whether she believed the drugs could be lawfully used.

He has also been held in total isolation for the past 14 years, leaving his solid cell on death row only two or three times a year.

A medical supplier, meanwhile, said one of the three drugs the state plans to use to put the prisoners to death wasn't sold to be used for lethal injections.

Arkansas uses potassium chloride in combination with vecuronium bromide and midazolam. Both companies told VICE News they have been trying to get answers from the Arkansas Department of Corrections for months about the brands of the drugs they plan to use.

"The only conclusion is that these medicines were acquired from an unauthorized seller in violation of important contractual terms that the manufacturers relied on when selling the medicines", thee two companies said in the brief.

The Arkansas high court did not elaborate on its decision in its one-page ruling. The company has said it had been reassured the drug would be returned and even issued a refund, but it never was.

Among the companies involved in the case is drug company Pfizer, which said it had asked the state of Arkansas to return its products on several occasions but that it had not done so.

The executions in Arkansas had been arranged to take place before a batch of one of the drugs used by the state expires later this month. McKesson is considering all possible means by which to secure the return of the product, up to and including legal action.

Griffen's order was issued the same day he was reported to be among those demonstrating at a vigil related to the executions.

Other speakers included State Representative Vivian Flowers (District 17); Furonda Brasfield, Executive Director of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; Bishop Anthony Taylor, the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock; and Rita Sklar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. The executions had been scheduled to start Monday night.

Drug companies Fresenius Kabi USA and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals filed a motion as part of the federal lawsuit by the condemned inmates on Thursday, claiming that the drugs were secured in an improper manner, and could affect their ability to sell in Europe. "But not with more killing".

"I didn't want to come back, but when I heard about the conveyor belt of death that the politicians were trying to set in motion, I guess I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't come back and try to do something", said Echols, who now lives in NY.

Arkansas has not executed a prisoner since November 2005 and has not carried out a dual execution since 1999.

  • Larry Hoffman