ARKANSAS: Lethal injection death under investigation

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On Thursday, Kenneth Williams became the fourth convicted killer to be executed by the state of Arkansas in eight days. The executions are being carried out in rapid fashion, in part, because one of the state’s lethal injection drugs will expire on Sunday.

According to reports, Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before  The four lethal injections that were carried out included Monday’s first double execution in the United States since 2000.”

Williams’ attorney is calling for an investigation into his client’s death, claiming that the execution was “problematic,” and calling witness accounts of his movements in the moments after being injected with the first drug “horrifying.”

Reporters who witnessed the execution said Williams’ body apparently convulsed a few minutes after the first of three drugs, a surgical sedative called midazolam, was injected. He was dead within ten minutes.

One report described rapid movements “15 times, in quick succession — lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest — then the rate slowed for a final five movements.”

The Republican state senator Trent Garner witnessed the execution and said on Twitter, Williams did not “seem in pain,” adding, “It was not cruel, unusual, botched or torture.”

Reading a final statement he wrote before the execution, Williams apologized to the families he “senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones.”

Williams had been sentenced to death for killing former deputy warden, Cecil Boren, after escaping from prison in 1999 in a 500-gallon barrel of kitchen scraps. At the time, he was less than three weeks into a life term for killing the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd in 1998. During his prison escape, he was also responsible for the death of a water-delivery truck driver and confessed to killing another person in 1998.

Witnesses said that the murderer “breathed heavily through his nose until just after three minutes into his execution when his chest leaped forward in a series of what seemed like involuntary movements. His right hand never clenched and his face remained what one media witness called ‘serene.'”

“Any amount of movement he might have had was far less than any of his victims,” commented Jodie Efird, one of Boren’s daughters, who witnessed the execution.

Arkansas officials said the executions are serving justice and providing “closure” for victims’ families, as critics examine the inmates’ movements during the executions, concerned with making sure their deaths were “humane.”

It was reported that all of the Arkansas inmates on death row — including Williams — died within 20 minutes of their executions beginning. This had been a problem in other states, where the lethal injections took anywhere from 43 minutes to two hours to work, causing the killers to “breathe heavily, snore or snort or struggle against their restraints.”

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