Tense Easter Sunday in Arkansas as State Fights for Executions
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For some in the Christian community here, Easter Sunday took on a pallid atmosphere as state officials worked through the weekend to reinstate scheduled executions that had been held up by numerous court rulings.
While regular church services were planned for the holiday, many residents in the capital had been also expecting to attend a special vigil for the condemned later Sunday evening at Little Rock’s Trinity Cathedral — which was supposed conclude with a march to the governor’s mansion.
But the church suspended that service after Federal Judge Kristine Baker ordered a temporary injunction on the executions Saturday, effectively blocking them.
The vigil and march could be reinstated, as Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Alongside her team of 70 attorneys, the state’s top prosecutor has worked through Easter weekend to reestablish the execution schedule.
For the state, there is little room for error, since a key drug in the lethal injection cocktail expires at the end of the month. If the midazolam, a controversial drug that is supposed to render the inmates unconscious, is allowed to expire, it would delay executions for an indefinite period of time.
The first executions are scheduled for Monday and would put Bruce Ward and Don Davis to death. Both men’s lawyers have claimed that their clients are not mentally competent to face lethal injection.
Some Christians in Arkansas would be pleased by the delay.
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