New scrutiny of timeline after Arkansas executes 4th inmate

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Witnessed by AP writer Kelly Kissel.

Rita Sklar, the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, has called for an investigation into witness accounts of Kenneth Williams' execution to "determine whether the state tortured" him. While interned at the Arkansas Department Correction's Cummins Unit, he escaped on a prison vehicle's hog slop container. It would be the state's fourth execution.

In what was originally scheduled to be a double execution, Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after receiving the midazolam, the first of the state's new three-drug lethal injection.

Last night, Arkansas conducted the last of a series of executions in its rushed attempt to execute eight men in 11 days before its supply of midazolam, a controversial sedative that's been behind several botched executions, expires at the end of the month.

Nolan said in a statement that he's requesting "a full investigation into tonight's problematic execution".

Shawn Nolan, a lawyer for Williams, and the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday asked Arkansas to investigate.

A spokesperson for Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters the state is working on getting a new batch of the drug.

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April 27, inmates Ledell Lee, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams and Kenneth Williams, all paid the price of their crimes by being put to death by lethal injection.

In the midst of legal battles with drug suppliers, inmates fighting to avoid executions and courts issuing temporary stays, Arkansas carried out only four of the eight scheduled executions.

States struggling to find lethal drugs believe they've got the answer in midazolam, a sedative that's taking the place of barbiturates and anesthetics no longer available because drug manufacturers don't want them used in executions.

In his final statement from the death chamber, Williams said, "I extend my sincerest of apologies to the families I have senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones". Three media witnesses are allowed.

After the jerking, Williams breathed through his mouth and moaned or groaned once - during a consciousness check - until falling still seven minutes after the lethal injection.

A federal judge on Friday granted a request from Williams' attorneys to preserve evidence from the dead inmate's body, ordering the state to collect blood and tissue samples as well as request an autopsy from the state medical examiner.

The governor plans to analyze every witness statement but insisted none of Williams's actions justified anything more than a routine review, which the ADC does after every execution. The state also notes the Supreme Court has drawn a distinction between pain that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, and pain that is a effect of death. He was convicted for Hurd's murder, sentenced to life in prison and charged with capital murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, theft and arson.

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Boren's widow said earlier she planned to witness the execution.

State officials have called Arkansas' string of executions a success, declaring justice served and "closure" for victims' families. The lawyers for Williams tried unsuccessfully to win a last-minute stay of his execution with claims that Jones's execution by lethal injection "appeared to be torturous and inhumane".

The drug was used in troubled executions in Oklahoma and Arizona where witnesses said inmates twisted in pain on death chamber gurneys.

"Our concern is really the fact that these executions were scheduled because of the expiration date of the drug, and you are absolutely right that adds to the arbitrariness and cruelty of the whole process", said Ms Throssell, in response to a reporter's question.

"At a minimum, this was a deviation from the protocol". They argued that Arkansas' "one size fits all" execution protocol could have left him in pain after a paralytic agent rendered him unable to move. Roughly three hours after he was set to be executed, the Supreme Court denied all appeals. 18 years ago, in 1999, Williams escaped from Arkansas Prison and killed Cecil Boren in his home, in the Varner area, a few miles away from the same prison he was executed today.

Williams was initially spared the death penalty when he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1998 murder of 19-year-old cheerleader Dominique Hurd.

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