Double execution in Arkansas first in U.S. since 2000

By: Bob D Angelo , Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Updated:

VARNER, Ark. - Arkansas completed the first double execution in the country in 17 years Monday night, as the state executed death row inmate Marcel Williams, KARK reported.

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Williams was executed at 10:33 p.m. by lethal injection on the same gurney where fellow inmate Jack Jones died at 7:20 p.m. It was Arkansas’ first double execution since Sept. 8, 1999, according to the Department of Corrections, and the first in the United States since two men were put to death by the state of Texas in 2000.

Williams was the third Arkansas inmate put to death in the past week. Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection on April 20.

Williams had labored breathing, and then grimaced slightly before losing consciousness, according to an Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution. 

Jones’ execution was close to its scheduled time, beginning at 7 p.m. Williams was supposed to follow at 8:15, but the execution was postponed after District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary stay as questions arose about whether Jones’ execution was humane or not, KARK reported.

The stay was lifted about an hour later and Williams, who had been on death row for more than 20 years, was put to death. Jones also had been on death row for more than two decades, KARK reported.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally scheduled four double executions over an 11-day period, which would have been the most by a state in such a short span since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Arkansas said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Williams was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of Stacey Errickson. On Nov. 20, 1994, Errickson, then 23, was forced into a car at gunpoint by Williams. He drove her to several ATMs to make 18 different transactions, then raped her, strangled her in an abandoned storage shed, and buried her body in a shallow grave, KARK reported. Two days later, Williams kidnapped and raped two other women within 12 hours.

In 1996, Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the June 6, 1995, rape and murder of Mary Phillips. Phillips was strangled to death with a coffee pot cord while her 11-year-old daughter Lacey was tied to a chair. Lacey Phillips regained consciousness as police photographers took pictures of the crime scene, CNN reported.

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