Arkansas Court Blocks Another Planned Execution
Stacey Johnson can pursue his requests for enhanced DNA testing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2017 7:54 PM CDT
This combination of undated photos provided by the Arkansas Department of Correction shows death-row inmates Stacey E. Johnson, left, and Ledell Lee. Both men are scheduled for execution on April 20,...   (Uncredited)

(Newser) – The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted one of two executions planned for Thursday night, once again throwing a wrench in the state's plans to conduct several executions before the end of April, when one of its lethal injection drugs expires, the AP reports. The court ruled that Stacey Johnson could pursue his requests for enhanced DNA testing in hopes of proving his innocence in the 1993 rape and killing of Carol Heath. The Innocence Project filed the appeal along with Johnson's attorney. In its 4-3 ruling, the state's highest court followed the same split it did on Monday, when it halted two other executions involving different inmates.

Inmate Ledell Lee is also set for execution Thursday night but he also has legal challenges pending before several courts, including a similar request for more DNA tests. A spokesperson for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said the state is reviewing its options regarding Johnson's case. The state can ask the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider its decision or appeal to the US Supreme Court, which on Monday opted not to vacate a separate stay involving inmate Don Davis. Also still pending is a lawsuit from the medical supplier McKesson Corp., which says it sold the drug vecuronium bromide to the Arkansas Department of Correction for inmate medical care, not executions.

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