Arkansas Court Drops Stays For Two Death Row Inmates, One Could Face Execution

Mar 1, 2018

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge speaking with reporters Thursday at the Capitol.
Credit Governor's Office

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says she will likely ask the governor to set an execution date for a convicted killer after a ruling by the state Supreme Court.

On Thursday the high court said two inmates – who came within hours of being executed last year – were not entitled to special assistance from mental health professionals during their trials.

Bruce Ward and Don Davis won last minute stays after claiming independent psychiatrists should have been available to help develop trial strategies.

Don Davis
Credit Department of Correction

Asked by reporters about the status of the cases, Rutledge said "Ward does have an active case before the Supreme Court still, Davis does not, so he has exhausted all of his appeals. I will be discussing with my team to ensure that is in fact the case, and if he has in fact exhausted all appeals, I will be sending that notification to the governor."

If Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs the death warrant for Davis, there is one potential kink that for now could keep the state from carrying out the execution. Its supply of vercuronium bromide, which is one of three drugs used in the lethal injection process, expires Thursday night at midnight. It's used to stop an inmate's breathing.

Davis was one of eight death row inmates whose executions were scheduled over an 11 day period last April before a different lethal injection drug expired. Ultimately four would be put to death, while court challenges halted the others.