Did You Know?

Twenty-three men and no women have

been executed in the United States in 2017.

Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017  12:32 pm EDT

 

Arkansas has carried out the execution of Ledell Lee after multiple appeals and delays.  He was pronounced dead at 11:56 pm CDT.  Read more here.

 

Updated: Friday, April 21, 2017  12:32 pm EDT

 

The Supreme Court of the Untied States has rejected five appeals for Ledell Lee, and lifted their previous stay of execution.  

  

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  10:40 pm EDT

 

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected multiple requests to stay the execution of Ledell Lee.  Ledell still has multiple appeals pending at the Supreme Court of the United States.  The stay issued earlier by the Supreme Court of the United States remains in effect pending further order of the Court or Justice Alito.  So far, there has been no word.

 

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  9:32 pm EDT

 

Ledell Lee has been issued a temporary stay by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals until 9:15 CDT.  The stay is to allow time for the Supreme Court of the United States to consider Ledell's appeals.

 

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  8:16 pm EDT

 

The Arkansas Supreme Court has lifted a ban on the use of the one of the lethal injection drugs, allowing tonight’s execution of Ledell Lee to proceed.  Ledell still has appeals pending. 

 

Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017  4:26 pm EDT

 

 

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected, without comment, a request for a stay of execution from Ledell Lee.  Ledell’s execution remains on hold, at the moment, due to a lower court’s ruling.  Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has requested the Arkansas Supreme Court overturn the ban issued by a lower court judge preventing the state from using the lethal injection drugs due to a complaint by the company that sold the state the drugs.

 

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

 

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.

 

Ledell Lee has requested a stay of execution from the Arkansas Supreme Court, after a lower court judge rejected his request.  Ledell is asking that his execution be stayed in order to allow time for additional DNA testing.  The lower court judge, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright, questioned the timing of the request, noting that Ledell’s attorneys waited until his execution date was approaching to make the request, when the advances in DNA testing had been available for some years.  Additionally, the judge noted that there was significant evidence, such as eyewitness testimony, that placed Ledell at the scene of the crime.  Ledell is currently be represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

 

Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017  10:32 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  10:12 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  5:23 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  4:00 pm EDT

 

Ledell Lee is scheduled to be executed around 9 pm CDT, on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the Cummins Unit near Varner, Arkansas.  Fifty-one-year-old Ledell is convicted of the murder of 26-year-old Debra Reese on February 9, 1993, in Sunnyside, Arkansas.  Ledell has spent the last 21 years of his life on Arkansas’ death row.

 

Ledell was abandoned by his father after he was born.  He grew up with no father figure and came from a dysfunctional home.

 

Around 10 am on February 9, 1993, a man knocked on the door of William McCullough, Jr., and asked to borrow some tools, promising to return them.  William gave the man a driver ratchet and a socket.  The man never returned.  William was later able to identifyy the man as Ledell Lee.

 

Around 10:50 am, Katherine Williams received a phone call from her daughter Debra Reese.  A man had just knocked on the door and asked to borrow some tools.  He left after Debra said she did not have any tools, however Debra remained uncomfortable.  Debra promised to drive to Katherine’s house as soon as she finished curling her hair.  Debra never arrived.

 

Andy Gomez lived across the street from Debra and observed a man, acting suspiciously, entering Debra’s home through the screen door.  Andy later identified the man as Lee.  When the man left 20 minutes later, Andy followed him in his car.  Andy observed the man stop and speak with a women, who was also able to identify the man as Lee.

 

That afternoon, Debra’s body was discovered in her bedroom.  She had been beaten 36 times with a tire thumper, which was given to Debra to use for protection while her husband was away.  Bruising on her face and neck indicate that she had also been strangled.  During the investigation, it was discovered that three one-hundred-dollar bills were missing from her wallet.  The bills were part of stack belonging to Debra’s father and were in sequential order.  Debra’s father had given three to her.  Evidence showed that one of these bills was used by Lee to pay a debt at a Rent-a-Center.

 

As Lee was awaiting trial, he became the suspect in several other crimes, including the kidnapping and murder of 22-year-old Christine Lewis.  Christine was abducted from her Sunnyside home in November of 1989, as her three-year-old child watched.  Christine was strangled to death and her body left in the closet of an abandoned home.  The jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial and the state decided not to retry Lee after he received the death sentence for Debra’s murder.  Lee was also convicted on three charges of rape

 

Lee was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on October 16, 1995.

 

Lee 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 request not be granted.  

 

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.

 

Stacey Johnson 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 families of Debra Reese, Christine Lewis, and all the women harmed.  Please pray for strength for the family of Ledell Lee.  Please pray that if Ledell 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 execution.  Please pray that Ledell may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

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