Did You Know?

Ten men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  7:16 pm EDT

  

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced that her office will not appeal the stay of execution granted to Stacey Johnson by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

 

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  11:23 am EDT

 

The Arkansas Supreme Court, by a vote of 4-3, has stayed the execution of Stacey Johnson.  The reason for the stay is to allow time to test DNA evidence.  At the time of his conviction DNA testing was not advanced enough to test the samples recovered from the scene of the crime.  Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is looking into appeal option.

 

On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray issued a temporary restraining order, preventing Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide.  The order was granted after the company that supplied the drug protested its use of the drug in executions. The drug company, McKesson Corp., previously sought, and was granted, an identical order earlier this week.  They later withdrew their complaint and the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the earlier order.  They have now, once again, lodged a complaint and been granted an order preventing the state from using the drug in executions.

 

Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017  10:34 am EDT

 

On Friday, April 14, 2017, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Arkansas from using one of its lethal injection drugs, vecuronium bromide, due to protests by the drug company who originally the sold the drug to Arkansas.  The drug company has since withdrawn their complaint.  Judge Griffen has since been removed from all death penalty and lethal injection cases by the Arkansas Supreme Court, due to his participation in a death penalty protest.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has also lifted his ban on using vecuronium bromide.

 

Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017  10:23 pm EDT

 

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has also overturned the ruling of US District Judge Kristine Baker.  Judge Baker had blocked all executions by ruling that midazolam had the potential to cause a cruel and unusual death in violation of the 8th Amendment.  The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the evidence presented did not adequately support Judge Baker's conclusion.  However, the ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals did not affect the ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which stayed Monday's execution of Don Davis and Bruce Ward.

 

Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017  5:24 pm EDT

 

On Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Arkansas from using one of its lethal injection drugs, vecuronium bromide, due to protests by the drug company who originally the sold the drug to Arkansas.  They have since withdrawn their complaint.  On Friday, the same day the Judge Griffen issued his order that Arkansas could not use the drugs, meaning no executions could take place, Judge Griffen participated in a death penalty protest, mimicking a death row inmate strapped to a gurney to be executed.  Judge Griffen has also been outspoken in his disapproval of the death penalty.  Following his order, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, who ruled earlier today that Judge Griffen was to be removed from all death penalty and lethal injection cases immediately and the cases were to be reassigned.  Additionally, Judge Griffen was referred by the Arkansas Supreme Court to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to determine if he had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has not lifted Judge Griffen's ban on the use of vecuronium bromide.

 

On Saturday, April 15, 2017, US District Judge Kristine Baker placed a blanket temporary injunction on all executions in Arkansas, following arguments from lawyers for the inmates that midazolam had the potential to cause a cruel and unusual death.  Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed and appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the challenge of midazolam was without merit because it had already been decided by other court cases.  

 

Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017  4:01 pm EDT

 

Stacey Eugene Johnson is scheduled to be executed around 9 pm CDT, on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the Cummins Unit near Varner, Arkansas.  Forty-seven-year-old Stacey is convicted of the murder of Carol Jean Heath, in her DeQueen, Arkansas, apartment, during the late hours of April 1, 1993, or the early morning hours of April 2, 1993, while Carol’s two young children were hiding in the home.  Stacey has spent the last 22 years on Arkansas’ death row.

 

Around 6:45 am, on April 2, 1993, Rose Cassidy, discovered her sister’s, Carol Heath, partially clothed body lying in a pool of blood in her apartment.  After calling the police, Rose discovered that Carol’s two children, 6-year-old Ashley and 2-year-old Jonathan were still in the home, hiding in a bedroom.  When Rose asked Ashley what happened, Ashley told her, “Somebody had broke in.”  Ashley also identified the man as an African-American.  She later identified Stacey Johnson out of a picture line-up and stated that he had a female sounding name. 

 

Upon investigation, police discovered that Carol had been strangled, had her neck cut through to her spine, and received blunt-force head injuries.  A doctor could not say for certainty whether Carol had been raped or sexually assaulted, although evidence suggested that she had been.  Carol’s purse was discovered days later in the woods near her apartment.  Inside of her purse were several bloodstained items and items which contained DNA.  The clothing found matched Ashley’s description of what the man who killed her mother was wearing.  Johnson was eventually arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

Stacey Johnson was scheduled to be executed on November 3, 2015.  His execution was stayed, along with several others, by a judge with the Pulaski County Circuit Court.  The execution was stayed due to legal challenges regarding the execution drugs.

 

Johnson recently asked Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to grant clemency and commute his sentence.  Governor Hutchinson has not yet responded to the request, although the Arkansas Parole Board has recommended that the Governor not grant clemency.

 

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen has issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug, vecuronium bromide, in the upcoming scheduled executions.  Vecuronium bromide is a muscle relaxant and the second drug used in the lethal injection process.  According to the medical company who supplied the drug, the drug was sold under the guise of being used for medical purposes.  Upon discovering the drug was to be used in executions, the drug company requested that the drug be returned.  The state allegedly agreed to return the drug and a refund was issued, however the drug was never returned.  Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed an emergency request to vacate Judge Griffen’s order, however, the drug company has since withdrawn their complaint.  Judge Griffen has since had all of his death penalty cases reassigned by the Arkansas Supreme Court and referred him to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to determine if he has violated judicial conduct rules by participating in a death penalty protest on Friday, April 14, 2017.  During the protest, Judge Griffen mimicked a death row inmate by lying, strapped down, to a gurney, as if to be executed.  Judge Griffen has previously announced his personal opposition to the death penalty.

 

On Saturday, April 15, 2017, US District Judge Kristine Baker placed a blanket temporary injection on all executions in Arkansas, following arguments from lawyers for the inmates that midazolam had the potential to cause a cruel and unusual death.  Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed and appeal with the Arkansas Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the challenge of midazolam was without merit because it had already been decided by other court cases.

 

Ledell Lee is also scheduled to be executed on Thursday, April 20, 2017, in Arkansas.  As of yet, no information has been provided as to the order in which the men will be executed.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Carol Heath.  Please pray for strength for the family of Stacey Johnson.  Please pray that if Stacey is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be presented prior to his arrest.  Please pray that Stacey may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

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