April 17 (UPI) — After the Arkansas Supreme Court halted two executions set for Monday, the state’s governor appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for them to proceed as scheduled Monday night.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he expected a decision from the nation’s highest court Monday night.
The executions would be Arkansas’ first in more than a decade.
The state high court’s majority decision, delivered without explanation, was a response to a plea for the state to avoid executing Don W. Davis until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a pending case.
That case, McWilliams v. Dunn from Alabama, is scheduled for oral argument next week and involves legal questions about expert testimony at criminal trials. A decision is expected by June.
The Arkansas court’s ruling also applied to a second inmate, Bruce Ward, who was also scheduled to die Monday. His execution was stayed late last week.
Hutchinson scheduled eight lethal injections to take place over 11 days this month, at a time other states are retreating from the practice.
The governor defended the accelerated pace, unmatched in the modern era, because the state’s supply of one of the lethal drugs used in the process expires at the end of April, and no replacement could be guaranteed amid an ongoing shortage.