Arkansas has executed an inmate for the first time in nearly a dozen years as part of its plan to execute several inmates before a drug expires April 30, despite court rulings that have already spared three men.
Ledell Lee’s execution was the first in the state since 2005. He was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, four minutes before his death warrant was due to expire.
Lee, 51, was put on death row for the 1993 death of his neighbor Debra Reese, whom Lee struck 36 times with a tire tool her husband had given her for protection. Lee was arrested less than an hour after the killing after spending some of the $300 he had stolen from Reese.
The state originally set four double executions over an 11-day period in April. The eight executions 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. The state said the executions needed to be carried out before its supply of one lethal injection drug expires on April 30. The first three executions were canceled because of court decisions.
Two more inmates are set to die Monday, and one on April 27. Another inmate scheduled for execution next week has received a stay.Arkansas prepared late Thursday to carry out its first execution since 2005 after three other lethal injections planned by the end of the month were scrapped in the face of court challenges.
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