- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Arkansas executed late Thursday its fourth inmate in eight days, bringing to a close an unprecedented death-penalty odyssey driven by the looming expiration of a key lethal-injection drug.

Kenneth D. Williams, 38, was put to death for the 1999 murder of 57-year-old Cecil Boren, a farmer and former deputy prison warden, after breaking out of prison, where he was serving a life sentence for killing 19-year-old Dominique Hurd in 1998.

Williams was executed just days before the April 30 expiration of the state’s supply of midazolam, a sedative used in the three-drug protocol. State officials have been unable to obtain additional doses of the drug, lending urgency to the execution timetable.

Mr. Hutchinson set eight executions for April 17-27, which would have been the most in U.S. history in an 11-day period since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, but four of the inmates received stays of execution or delays.

As a result, Arkansas executed four inmates between April 20 and April 27: Jack Jones Jr., Marcel Williams, Ledell Lee and Williams.

Foes of the death penalty had accused the state of taking an “assembly line” approach to the death penalty that increased the risk of error, but Mr. Hutchinson argued the state had a responsibility to carry out the sentences.

“The long path of justice ended tonight and Arkansans can reflect on the last two weeks with confidence that our system of laws in this state has worked,” said Mr. Hutchinson in a Thursday statement. “Carrying out the penalty of the jury in the Kenneth Williams case was necessary. There has never been a question of guilt.”

Arkansas had not executed anyone since 2005 as a result of a legal battle over the lethal-injection protocol that was resolved in the state’s favor on Feb. 21. Mr. Hutchinson announced the eight-execution timetable on Feb. 27.

Williams‘ attorneys filed last-minute pleas arguing that he was intellectually disabled and suffered from maladies, including sickle cell trait, lupus and brain damage, that could cause him to suffer during the execution process, but the courts rejected the appeals.

After shooting to death Mr. Boren, Williams tried to escape from police during a high-speed chase that ended after he crashed into the vehicle of a 24-year-old water-delivery driver, Michael Greenwood, killing him.

In 2005, Williams said in a letter to the Pine Bluff Commercial that he had also killed 36-year-old Jerrell Jenkins on the same day that he robbed, kidnapped and shot to death Hurd, a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader.

Mr. Hutchinson said the victims’ families “were finally provided the justice they were promised and they also saw that our system of laws have meaning.”

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