The southern U.S. state of Arkansas executed two people in the span of about three hours late Monday, as authorities work to carry out death sentences on a number of inmates before a drug used in the lethal injections expires at the end of the month.
The first to die Monday was 52-year-old Jack Jones, who was convicted for the 1995 killing of Mary Phillips and the attempted murder of her 11-year-old daughter.
Lawyers for 46-year-old Marcel Williams won a brief delay in his execution as a judge considered their concerns about how the first execution was carried out, but the judge lifted the stay an hour later and the second execution proceeded.
Williams was sentenced to death for the 1994 rape and killing of Stacy Errickson, a 22-year-old he kidnapped from a gas station.
Both men executed Monday had argued that their poor health put them at heightened risk of pain and suffering during the lethal injection process, citing the use of the sedative midazolam and its link to prior botched executions in other states.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had scheduled four double executions to take place this month, but courts ordered delays for four of those scheduled to die. One prisoner was executed last week — the state’s first since 2005. Another prisoner is scheduled to die on Thursday.
So far in 2017, a total of nine people have been executed in the United States. Last year, there were 20 executions.