November 21, 2017

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The Latest: Arkansas governor disappointed by court ruling

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas’ plan to execute several inmates before the end of April (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he is “surprised and disappointed” that the state Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution to Stacey Johnson, who was scheduled to be put to death Thursday.

In a statement late Wednesday, Hutchinson did not say whether the state would appeal the 4-3 decision. Hutchinson says he wants a clear explanation from the court majority as to how they came to the decision.

The state high court decision was one of two setbacks Wednesday to Arkansas’ bid to resume capital punishment after a 12-year hiatus.

6:35 p.m.

An Arkansas judge has blocked the state from using a lethal injection after a drug company argued it was misled by the state about the use of the drug, potentially halting the state’s plan to put several men to death by the end of the month.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray on Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order to McKesson Corp. The medical supply company says it sold vecuronium bromide to be used for inmate care. The drug is one of three used in Arkansas’ lethal injection protocol.

The ruling came moments after the Arkansas Supreme Court granted a stay to one of two men scheduled for execution Thursday night.

6 p.m.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has halted one of two executions set for Thursday, saying the condemned inmate should have a chance to prove his innocence with more DNA testing.

Stacey Johnson claims that advanced DNA techniques could show that he didn’t kill Carol Heath, a 25-year-old mother of two, in 1993 at her southwest Arkansas apartment.

In a 4-3 ruling late Wednesday afternoon, the state’s highest court issued a stay for Johnson and ordered a new hearing in lower court for Johnson to make his claims.

Johnson was set for execution Thursday night along with inmate Ledell Lee, who is also seeking a stay in a separate case.

5:10 p.m.

A group of Arkansas death-row inmates has filed another emergency stay request with the U.S. Supreme Court, this time challenging the state’s initial plan to execute eight inmates over 11 days before Arkansas’ supply of an execution drug expires.

The inmates claim in their request Wednesday that such a compressed schedule “is contrary to the evolving standards of decency.”

The legal challenge is one of several filed by the inmates. They include Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson, who are set for execution Thursday night.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson scheduled the eight executions to take place before the state’s supply of midazolam expires April 30. Three of those inmates have since received stays.

4:30 p.m.

A deputy director of the Arkansas prison system says he deliberately ordered an execution drug in a way so there wouldn’t be a paper trail.

Rory Griffin testified Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by medical supply company McKesson Corp., which is asking a

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