Arkansas executed its last scheduled death row inmate, but not before he exhausted all appeals.
38-year-old Kenneth Williams was originally scheduled to be executed at seven o’clock on Thursday evening, but it was delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed last minute documents filed on his behalf.
Attorneys for Williams argued the state’s executions this week were flawed and Williams would suffer as he died. They also argued Williams intellectual disability would make him ineligible for execution. The Supreme Court rejected those appeals and the execution was then allowed to proceed. Williams was pronounced dead at 11:05p.m. He was convicted in the 1998 killing of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd. Williams then escaped in 1999 and killed Cecil Boren at his home just a couple miles away from the prison. He was captured after causing a traffic accident, killing Michael Greenwood in Missouri. Williams was sentenced to death in 2000.
Reporter Donna Terrell from our sister station in Little Rock was one of the witnesses to last night’s execution. She says, “The last thing he said was in tongues. Then he said something else and his voice began to trail off as if he was falling asleep. And then right after that the chest started going up and down and up and down.” Terrell adds, “If it’s supposed to happen where the person is put to sleep the way we’ve always described it, and then they add the paralytic drug, that didn’t happen after the Midazolam.”
This isn’t the first time for Midazolam to come under fire. In 2014, the drug drew attention after witnesses say Clayton Lockett of Oklahoma appeared to have seizure-like movements on the gurney during his lethal injection process.
As for the four other inmates on death row, the clemency process now starts over for those individuals. We do not know when they will be put to death, but we do know one of the drugs used in the lethal injection process, Midazolam, expires at the end of April.