Arkansas court maintains stay for condemned man

The state's attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, has appealed against the court's decision. The court had issued the stay on Friday. Arkansas originally planned to execute eight inmates between Monday and April 27 because its supply of one of the three execution drugs, midazolam, expires on April 30 and the state says it does not have a supplier to replenish it. Ward's lawyers had argued he is a paranoid schizophrenic incapable of comprehending his death, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The executions, which have so far been blocked by a federal judge, are to happen in the span of 11 days.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker granted the inmates stays of execution on Saturday, but she rejected their arguments that too little time between executions violated their constitutional rights.

The legal fight in Arkansas, which has not held an execution in 12 years, came after USA executions fell to a quarter-century low in 2016 and as capital punishment in several states was stymied by problems with lethal injection drugs and legal questions over their protocols. That filling stems from the makers of one of the lethal injection drugs who claims the state obtained their product "outside approved channels". Two others won stays of execution from state courts, leaving six of the original petitioners now in line for their executions to be carried out. Only Texas has executed six inmates in less time.

In her order, Baker said there was a significant possibility that the inmates could successfully challenge the state's execution protocol.

As the legal battle plays out, the state's execution facility is readying for a rapid reversal of the decisions.

If court proceedings are pushed into May, officials won't be able to carry out the executions with the drugs they have on hand. Soon after Griffen scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning, he joined a protest of the executions outside the governor's mansion.

The prisoners' lawyers say the midazolam would not prevent the inmates from feeling excruciating pain as their lungs and heart shut down.

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The inmates filed paperwork Sunday asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider their claims that Baker rejected.

"The unnecessarily compressed execution schedule using the risky drug midazolam denies prisoners their right to be free from the risk of torture", lawyer John C. Williams said. A medical supply company said it was misled by the state and that the drug was sold for medical purposes, not executions. Rutledge said the state court's ruling was based "on a misinterpretation of federal law".

Arkansas uses potassium chloride in combination with vecuronium bromide and midazolam. The state is also seeking to overturn Judge Griffen's order regarding the state's supply of vecuronium bromide. It said Thursday that it issued Arkansas a refund of its purchase price, but that the drug wasn't returned.

Arkansas has not had an execution in more than a decade.

Mr Mathews said that while it is a good thing the drug is being discontinued, he added "one worries because they will find another way to implement the death penalty". They noted that Oklahoma began requiring a week between single executions after flaws were uncovered after Clayton Lockett's death during a midazolam execution in 2014.

Attorneys for the eight are likely to appeal the federal court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arkansas death row inmate Don Davis has been transported from Varner Supermax Prison to the Cummins Unit, where the execution chamber is located, according to a spokesperson with the Arkansas Department of Correction.

The eight inmates also asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay until the high court rules on their request to reconsider whether to weigh in a state court decision upholding Arkansas' lethal injection law.