Arkansas suffered two more setbacks in its unprecedented bid to carry out eight executions this month with the state’s highest court granting a reprieve to an inmate scheduled to die Thursday and a county court ruling the state can’t use one of its lethal injection drugs in any executions.
While both of Wednesday’s rulings could be overturned, Arkansas now faces an uphill battle to execute any inmates before the end of April, when another of its drugs expires.
The state originally set eight executions to occur over an 11-day period in April, which would have been the most by a state in such a compressed period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. But Arkansas has faced a wave of legal challenges, and the latest ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray over the drug vecuronium bromide upends the entire schedule.
Judge Gray sided with McKesson Corp., which had argued that it sold Arkansas the drug for medical use — not executions — and that it would suffer harm financially and to its reputation if the executions were carried out.