On April 20th, Arkansas carried out its first execution in more than a decade after the U.S Supreme Court rejected the requests by a death-row inmate to stay his lethal injection. Ledell Lee, 51, was sentenced to death for the killing of Debra Reese. Lee also allegedly assaulted her in her home two year prior. His death has resulted criticism and outbursts directed towards Arkansas’s judicial system.
Lee denied responsibility of the death and requested for DNA testing to prove that he was innocent.His execution was confirmed by state officials and the Arkansas Department of Corrections Thursday night at 11:56 p.m local time. His execution warrant would have expired four minutes after his death. He reportedly had no last words and showed no visible signs of “suffering.”
Lee is the seventh person to be executed in the United States this year. Earlier this month Arkansas has laid out plans to carry out eight executions over the span of 10 days because one of the lethal drugs used to carry out executions was to expire this month. There have been many legal battles to stall the dates of these executions.
The most notable of these cases was one where the prisoners argued that one of the drugs used does not always function correctly and could consequently lead to cruel and unusual punishment, which could be the case for poorly executed prisoners in Arizona and Oklahoma in recent years. A federal judge agreed to halt on all of Arkansas scheduled executions and Arkansas then appealed. After back and forth discussion, the Supreme Court lifted its halt on Lee’s case.
The Supreme Court did not explain their decision. It is not yet determined what will occur for the upcoming executions the state has planned.