On Thursday, Arkansas executed an inmate for the first time since 2005 and is set to execute several additional inmates before April 30 when its supply of midazolam — an execution drug — expires.
Ledell Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m., four minutes before his death warrant would have expired.
The execution comes after court rulings spared three other men. However, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 earlier Thursday on a previous batch of appeals for the state to go ahead with Lee’s execution.
New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch voted with the majority of five to deny the stay.
Justice Stephen Breyer voted for the stay and said in his dissent he found it troubling that Arkansas was pushing to execute the inmates before a drug expires.
Breyer wrote: “Apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the `use by’ date of the state’s execution drug is about to expire…In my view, that factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random.”
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