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Law and Order: Arkansas Executes Two Men in Four Hours

First inmate executed Monday night carried connections to a Bryant senior

Last+night%2C+Arkansas+carried+out+the+first+double+execution+in+the+United+States+since+2000%2C+with+potentially+more+to+come.
Last night, Arkansas carried out the first double execution in the United States since 2000, with potentially more to come.

Last night, Arkansas carried out the first double execution in the United States since 2000, with potentially more to come.

Julia Nall

Julia Nall

Last night, Arkansas carried out the first double execution in the United States since 2000, with potentially more to come.

Julia Nall, Print Editor

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Deep in the Delta, just before sunset, Jack Jones was injected with a mixture of midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. At 7:20 pm, the Arkansas Department of Corrections announced that Jones had been successfully executed, the first of what would be the only double execution in the United States since 2000. Marcel Williams would be the second, announced dead at 10:33 p.m..

In 1995, Jones raped and murdered Mary Phillips as she was leaving her workplace and attempted to murder Phillips’ then 11-year-old daughter, Lacy. Jones was on death row for 22 years following his conviction for the crime.

Phillips was a resident of Bald Knob, where she worked at an accounting office. According to authorities, Jones raped and murdered Phillips before robbing her office, then attempted to murder Lacy.

Bill Lindsey, a White County crime scene investigator at the time, was one of the first to the site of the homicide, where he was taking photographs for the investigation. Lacy was tied to a chair and presumed dead until Lindsey’s flash went off while taking a photograph of her, and she looked up at him.

Lacy played an integral role in the arrest and conviction of Jones, and stated after his execution she was “glad it is done.”

Senior Payton Sims is a distant cousin of Phillips and Lacy. His mother, Tracy, was good friends with Phillips growing up. The execution, and the 22 years between June 5, 1995 and last night, has placed a heavy burden on the Sims family.

It’s been hard for my parents [and] grandparents,” Sims said in an interview before the execution. “When they see it on the news, they just shake their head. They’ve said, ‘I don’t need to hear this name in my house anymore.’”

Jones’ attorneys filed for multiple stays on his execution, citing that his potential resistance to midazolam would make the execution exceptionally painful and potentially ineffective, rendering it as “cruel and unusual punishment” and a violation of the 8th Amendment. The stay requests made their way up to the United State Supreme Court, where a writ of certiorari was denied, essentially meaning the Supreme Court denied the stay and referred back to the earlier ruling of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

According to the Associated Press, Jones was administered the drugs at 7:06 pm. He stopped moving by 7:07 pm, and was pronounced dead at 7:20. His death certificate will read “homicide.”

Williams, convicted of raping and murdering Stacy Rae Errickson in 1994, was executed a little over three hours later. A federal district court judge initially placed a stay on Williams’ execution following the death of Jones, and lawyers argued that Williams’ health conditions would create complications in the execution process. Botched executions in Alabama, Arizona and Oklahoma, all using midazolam, have been repeatedly cited in arguments against Arkansas’ current execution schedule.

Protests have formed in resistance to the state’s original plan to execute eight men in ten days. Two executions have been placed on hold and three have been carried out, leaving three more to be decided by the end of next week. West Memphis Three suspect Damien Echols spoke at an ACLU-organized rally against the death penalty on the 14, accompanied by Johnny Depp. Echols personally knows the men currently scheduled for execution from his time on death row and is concerned that a few of the men are mentally ill, including Jones. Jones reportedly suffered from severe depressive episodes and bipolar disorder.

Julia Nall
Johnny Depp speaks to a crowd in front of the Capitol on April 14. Depp became involved with the West Memphis Three after working on a documentary about the case, and now travels with Echols and advocates against the death penalty.

The executions have been scheduled so tightly together partially because the midazolam is set to expire April 30, and the producers of the other two drugs are suing the state for the use of the drugs in capital punishment. Governor Asa Hutchinson has also stated that the executions are not rushed as most of the men have been on death row for two decades, and that the families of victims deserve closure.

Despite protests, the majority of Arkansans have been reported to support the death penalty. According to NPR, only 18 percent of Arkansans are opposed to capital punishment, while 38 percent still support public hangings.

When asked for final statements, Jones apologized to the family of Jones, especially to Lacy.

“I am so sorry Lacy,” Jones said. “Try to understand, I love you like my child.”

However, Lacy has stated that the execution is what her family needs to achieve closure.

The debate surrounding the death penalty, especially in Arkansas, is unlikely relax after next week. Arkansas will have to find new sources for the lethal injection drugs for future executions. In Arkansas, an inmate may request to be execution by electrocution.

“The people that [the inmates] murdered, they didn’t get a chance,” Sims said. “For them to take a life, I sometimes think, ‘Do we need to take their lives just because of that reason?’

I don’t know. Either way they’re getting punished [by] serving in any form, whether we kill them or keep them.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Law and Order: Arkansas Executes Two Men in Four Hours”

  1. Tim Meisner on April 27th, 2017 4:53 am

    I feel that the death penalty; given considerable evidence, is a feasible form of handling the wrong doer. I think punishment to an extent should be handed down by the victims family. There are many people that don’t deserve life as they are a drag on society and cause more pain and suffering than they cause any good.

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