Jones Sr., 52, was executed shortly after 7 p.m.as scheduled, for raping and murdering Mary Phillips and brutally beating her daughter in 1995.
For the first time in almost 17 years two convicted murderers were executed on the same night, on the same gurney, just three hours apart, as the state of Arkansas rushed to carry out a series of lethal injections before one of the required drugs expires. Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m.
Two days after Errickson’s murder, Williams kidnapped and raped two other women within 12 hours.
Arkansas on Monday continued their controversial execution spree by carrying out back-to-back executions to become the first U.S. state to kill more than one inmate on the same day in 17 years.
Baker had temporarily halted Jones’ execution after Williams’ attorneys said Jones could be seen gulping for air five minutes into his execution.
Williams’s execution was briefly stayed by a federal judge until 8:30 p.m., but was lifted an hour later. Infirmary workers had spent more than 45 minutes unsuccessfully trying to put a central line into his neck.
In an emergency filing, Williams’ lawyers argued that he could face a “torturous” death because of his size.
Two inmates were given lethal injections about three hours apart as Arkansas completed the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.
The state carried one other execution last week and it has a final one planned for Thursday.
In recent pleas to state and federal courts, the two inmates said the three drug cocktail Arkansas uses could have been ineffective due to their poor health. U.S. District Judge Price Marshall Jr. put the execution on hold this month after the state Parole Board recommended Gov. Asa Hutchinson grant him clemency.
Jamie Giani, an assistant public defender on Williams’ legal team who witnessed his execution, said she watched officials conduct the execution but was uncertain throughout about what was actually happening.
Because the microphone was off during Monday’s first execution, witnesses disagreed on whether Jack Jones was struggling for air after being given 500 milligrams of midazolam. One denied a stay of execution to Williams, saying that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in the case.
Last year, 20 people were executed, down from 98 in 1999 and the lowest number since 14 in 1991, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.
States with the death penalty have struggled to obtain enough lethal injection drugs, including midazolam, as manufacturers and distributors have increasingly refused to provide supplies for capital punishment. Jones and Williams committed their crimes more than two decades ago. “They gave our family justice”. Jones was put to death first, at 7:20 p.m., but not before suffering through what might have been a botched execution.
For his last meal, Jones had fried chicken, potato logs, beef jerky bites, Butterfinger bars and a chocolate milkshake.
Lawyers for Jones argued that their client should not be put to death because diabetes, hypertension and many narcotics prescribed to him over the years would mean that “he is likely to be either not rendered unconscious and thus suffer a painful death in violation of the Eighth Amendment, or be left alive but brain damaged”.
Williams has been transferred to Arkansas’ Cummins Unit, where executions are carried out.
“This evening, Lacey Phillips Manor and Darla Phillips Jones have seen justice for the brutal rape and murder of their mother, Mary Phillips”. Kenneth Williams is set to be executed on Thursday, and then the state will deal with the remaining four inmates who have been granted a stay.
Media witnesses say his lips and chest were still moving once the drugs were administered. He abducted Phillips and her 11-year-old daughter from an accounting office in 1995 and robbed them at gunpoint.
The attorneys say their recent appointment marks the first time sufficient funds have been available to investigate jury misconduct at Williams’ trial, and that they have conducted such an investigation very recently which found “significant evidence of jury misconduct, bias and exposure to improper evidence”.