Arkansas is fighting to execute seven inmates before a key drug used in lethal injections expires.
The state initially tried to execute eight. But attorneys for Bruce Ward, one of the men on the list, requested a stay based on mental disability, which was granted by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Of the seven men still on Arkansas’ list, four are black, three are white and all were convicted of murder. Here’s a look at who they are and their crimes:
Don William Davis, 54
Davis has been convicted in the brutal death of Jane Daniel. Daniel was in her home when Davis broke in and shot her with a .44-caliber gun. Seven years ago, he came within six hours of being executed by the state before the Arkansas Supreme Court halted it and addressed whether legislators had left out key details to the prison staff. Ultimately, the justices tossed out Arkansas’ death row policies. Davis has not sought clemency but has joined other inmates’ various lawsuits. Prison officials moved Davis Friday night to a cell near the execution chamber.
Jack Herold Jones, Jr., 52
Jones was initially scheduled to be put to death April 24 at 9 p.m. CDT. Jones has spent the past two decades on death row for killing Mary Phillips and trying to kill her daughter, Lacy, during a robbery at an accounting office. Phillips was found naked from the waist down with a cord from a coffee pot tied around her neck. Lacy was left for dead but woke up as police photographed her. Jones had taken Lacy to the bathroom and tied her to a chair. Lacy cried and asked Jones not to hurt her mother. Jones told the child, “I’m not. I’m going to hurt you.” He then choked her until she passed out and hit her in the head with the barrel of a BB gun. Jones has said he is “not interested in clemency and has apologized for his actions.” Jones has spent the last 20 years of his life on death row. He’s tried to commit suicide twice and allegedly has been diagnosed with anti-social disorder and is bi-polar, according to The Forgiveness Foundation. Jones began using hard drugs from an early age.
Kenneth Dewayne Williams, 38
Williams was initially scheduled to be executed on Thursday, April 27. Williams spent the last 17 years of his life on Arkansas’ death row. Williams grew up in a very violent home and was exposed to drugs, alcohol and physical abuse from an early age. He also had developmental disabilities which alienated him from his friends in school. He was convicted of murdering Cecil Boren in 1999. Three weeks after his conviction, Williams escaped by hiding in a container of hog slop being ferried from a prison kitchen to a prison hog farm outside the main gates. While in prison, Williams said he had killed another person in 1998. He gave a one-hour, 15-minute speech in front of the parole board where he accepted full responsibility for his actions.
Stacey E. Johnson, 47
Johnson was put on death row for the murder of Carol Heath in 1993. Heath was beaten and strangled and had her throat slit while her two young children were hiding in the home. Heath’s daughter, Ashley, has said she’s forgiven Johnson but wants him to admit he killed her mother. Johnson has refused and has strongly maintained his innocence. His initial conviction was overturned when the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a police officer should not have told jurors that Ashley, who was 6 at the time and found incompetent to testify, had picked Johnson out of a photo lineup. Johnson has spent 22 years on Arkansas’ death row.
Ledell Lee, 51
Lee is sentenced to die for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese, his neighbor. He beat Reese 36 times with a tire tool her husband had given her for protection. Lee was apprehended less than an hour after the grizzly death, trying to spend the $300 he had stolen from her. DNA evidence has also linked him to the disappearance of Christin Lewis, 22. Lee is also serving time for the rapes of a Jacksonville woman and teenager. He is scheduled to be executed Thursday, April 20. Ledell has spent the last 21 years of his life on Arkansas’ death row.
Marcel Williams, 46
Williams was found guilty of the rape and murder of Stacy Errickson. Williams abducted the mother of two when she stopped for gas in Jacksonville, Fla. He then drove around to multiple ATMs and had her take out $350. Errickson never arrived at work that day nor did she pick up her child from the babysitters. Her body was found badly beaten and bound in a park two weeks later. Williams confessed to killing Errickson. He’s also been linked to assaults on two other women. He is scheduled to be executed on Monday, April 24.
Jason F. McGehee, 40
McGehee beat to death Johnny Melbourne, Jr., for telling police who was behind an Arkansas theft ring. While several people are accused of beating and torturing the 15-year-old Melbourne, co-defendants claim McGehee did most of it. During his trial, McGehee asked the jury for mercy and said he had grown up in a dysfunctional family and had a violent childhood. He was forced to watch as his father killed two of his pets. He also watched his step-father beat another pet, which died from its injuries. McGehee claimed his mother would force him to sleep outside for days and deny him food. The jury convicted him in 90 minutes. He is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, April 27.