Arkansas death row inmates seek Supreme Court relief

Story highlights

  • The US Supreme Court is set to hold oral arguments in a death penalty case on April 24
  • Arkansas' supply of a drug used in lethal injections is set to expire at the end of this month

(CNN)Six Arkansas death row inmates scheduled to die by lethal injection this month in Arkansas have -- as expected -- asked the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appeals court order and uphold a district court's injunction that temporarily stopped the executions.

The district court found that the inmates were likely to show that the lethal injection drug protocol "entails a substantial risk of harm."
Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson are slated for execution Thursday. Two more inmates, Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, are scheduled to die on April 24, while Kenneth Williams is slated for execution on April 27. A sixth inmate, Jason McGehee, received a stay in a different case.
    Two more inmates -- Don Davis and Bruce Ward -- were scheduled to be executed this past Monday, April 17, but were not. The attorney for Davis and Ward requested stays of execution until the US Supreme Court rules on an upcoming case concerning defendant access to independent mental health experts. The US Supreme Court is set to hold oral arguments in that case, McWilliams v. Dunn, on April 24.
    In a statement, Scott Braden, the attorney for both Davis and Ward, said his clients were "denied access to independent mental health experts, even though they clearly demonstrated that mental health issues would be significant factors at their trials. Mr. Ward has severe and life-long schizophrenia, breaks with reality, and delusions, such as seeing demon dogs at the foot of his bed since childhood. Mr. Davis has organic brain damage, intellectual disability, a history of head injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other severe mental health conditions."
    Arkansas' supply of a drug used in lethal injections -- Midazolam -- is set to expire at the end of this month. Midazolam has been used in several botched executions in other states.