Lawyers Say Inmate's Execution Was 'Horrifying'

Reporter says Kenneth Williams jerked violently
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 28, 2017 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – Arkansas wrapped up an accelerated executions schedule with a lethal injection that left the condemned inmate lurching and convulsing before he died, prompting calls for investigations and renewed scrutiny of the state's efforts to put multiple inmates to death on a compressed timeline, per the AP. An AP reporter who witnessed the execution of Kenneth Williams on Thursday said that about three minutes in, Williams' body jerked 15 times in quick succession—lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest—then the rate slowed for a final five movements. A rep for Gov. Asa Hutchinson who did not witness the execution said the "involuntary muscular reaction" was a widely known effect of the surgical sedative midazolam.

But while the rep described the state's executions as "flawless," Williams' attorneys are calling witness accounts "horrifying" and demanding an investigation into what they called the "problematic execution." Williams breathed heavily through his nose until just after three minutes into his execution, when his chest leaped forward. His right hand never clenched and his face remained what one media witness called "serene." After the jerking, Williams breathed through his mouth and moaned or groaned once until falling still seven minutes into the lethal injection. An assistant federal public defender who witnessed a flawed 2014 Arizona execution that took two hours said witness accounts suggested Williams was not fully sedated when the paralytic was administered. "At a minimum, this was a deviation from the protocol." (Read more execution stories.)

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