CRIME
04/13/2017 06:58 pm ET

These Are The 7 Men Scheduled To Be Executed In Arkansas This Month

An in-depth look at the inmates the state is rushing to put to death.
Photos of the seven men set for controversial rush executions in Arkansas.
Illustration: HuffPost Photos: Arkansas Department of Correction
Photos of the seven men set for controversial rush executions in Arkansas.

Officials in Arkansas plan to execute seven death row prisoners over 11 days this month.

The rush to the gurney has been blamed on the state’s supply of the lethal injection drug midazolam, which is set to expire this month. The state does not have a replacement, and controversy over the drug has made it more difficult to obtain as companies refuse to sell it. Midazolam has been linked to botched executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.

The Department of Corrections has scheduled the executions to take place between April 17 and April 27. The deadly marathon will mark the first time in more than a decade that anyone has been put to death in the state.

These are the men facing execution.

  • 7 Jack Jones Jr. | Age 52 | 22 Years On Death Row
    Jack Harold Jones Jr. was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a bookkeeper and the near-fatal beating
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Jack Harold Jones Jr. was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a bookkeeper and the near-fatal beating of her young daughter.

    According to court documents, authorities were called to a Bald Knob accounting business on April 1, 1993, after the bodies of 34-year-old bookkeeper Mary Phillips and her 11-year-old daughter were found covered in blood.

    Phillips was found bound and naked from the waist down. An electrical cord had been wrapped around her neck. According to autopsy results, she died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Rectal swabs indicated that she had been anally raped prior to death. 

    A crime scene photographer was taking pictures of the youngest victim, thought to be dead, when she suddenly awoke. Doctors later determined the child had been beaten so badly that depressed fragments of bone had been driven into her brain.

    When authorities questioned Phillips' daughter, the child said a black-haired man with a teardrop tattoo had committed the crime. The girl said that after robbing the cash register, he tied her to a chair and took her mother to an adjoining room. The girl said she was crying when he came back alone, and she asked him not to hurt her mother, to which he replied, "I'm not. I'm going to hurt you."

    The girl said the man choked her until she fell consciousness. It is believed that she was then struck in the head at least eight times with the barrel of a BB gun.

    Based on the child's description of the suspect, authorities brought Jones in for questioning. Authorities said he confessed to committing the crime and said he did so to get revenge on the police, who he claimed did nothing to arrest the person responsible for raping his wife.

    Jones was ultimately convicted of capital murder, rape and criminal attempt to commit murder.

    In 2003, DNA linked Jones to the 1991 strangulation murder of 32-year-old Lorraine Anne Barrett. Jones pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to life without parole.

    Jones appellate attorneys have since argued that evidence of mental health issues – including his committal to a psychiatric facility in the months leading up to Phillips' murder – should have been presented at trial. 

    Earlier this month, Jones failed to appear in court for a clemency hearing. During the hearing, his attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, read a letter addressed to Phillips' daughter.

    "Your wish is and always has been that I die," he wrote. "And I could never, ever deny you this."

    Jones was ultimately denied clemency.

    Jones' execution is scheduled for April 24.
  • 6 Marcel Williams | Age 46 | 20 Years On Death Row
    Marcel Williams was convicted of kidnapping, rape and capital murder for the Nov. 20, 1994 death of Stacy Errickson, a 22-yea
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Marcel Williams was convicted of kidnapping, rape and capital murder for the Nov. 20, 1994 death of Stacy Errickson, a 22-year-old mother of two.

    Court documents state Williams abducted Errickson outside a Jacksonville gas station and forced her to withdraw a total of $350 dollars from various ATMs.

    When police arrested Williams on an outstanding warrant on Nov. 29, 1994, they had yet to find the body of Errickson, who was listed as a missing person. During questioning, Williams admitted to abducting Errickson, but claimed she was alive when he last saw her.

    Roughly two weeks later, Errickson's decomposing body was found buried in a shallow grave in North Little Rock. A medical examiner determined that Errickson had died as a result of "asphyxia due to suffocation." Williams' DNA, authorities said, was found in her body.

    During the course of the investigation, authorities determined that two days after Errickson was killed, Williams kidnapped and raped a student from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

    Errickson's mother testified at Williams' trial. During her testimony, she described the loss felt by Errickson's four-year-old daughter.

    "On Mother's Day we went to plant some flowers on her grave, because her mama always liked flowers," she said. "Instead of [her daughter] helping plant flowers, she started digging a hole, where she could go be with her mama."

    The jury deliberated roughly 30 minutes before finding Williams guilty.

    On appeal, attorneys representing Williams argued his trial attorneys had failed to present evidence that he had been abused as a child and was gang-raped during a prior prison stay. Those arguments, convinced a federal court in 2007 to reverse Williams' death sentence. However, that ruling proved to be only a minor reprieve. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals later overturned the lower court's decision, ruling it had improperly considered evidence not presented in state court. As a result, Williams' death sentence was reinstated.

    During a March 2017 hearing, in which he was asking the court to commute his sentence, Williams admitted to killing Errickson.

    "I am so sorry," Williams said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't. To those I hurt, sorry is not enough."   

    The Arkansas Parole Board denied Williams clemency. 

    Williams' execution is scheduled for April 24.
  • 5 Bruce Ward | Age 60 | 26 Years On Death Row
    Bruce Earl Ward was convicted of capital murder in the slaying of 18-year-old Rebecca Lynn Doss.<br><br>According to <a href=
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Bruce Earl Ward was convicted of capital murder in the slaying of 18-year-old Rebecca Lynn Doss.

    According to court documents, a police officer discovered Doss' body in the bathroom of a West Little Rock convenience store on Aug. 11, 1989. Officers arrested Ward, then 32, outside the store. He denied any involvement.

    At the time of her murder, Doss, who was from Memphis, Tenn., was working as a clerk at the store. She had dreams of getting her high school equivalency certificate and attending veterinarian college, The Arkansas Democratic Gazette reported in 1989.

    Ward, a drifter and perfume salesman, had a previous conviction for voluntary manslaughter in the 1977 strangulation death of Janet Needham, 20, of Erie, Pa. Ward served just a few years behind bars before he was released in the 1980s.

    Like Needham, Doss died as a result of strangulation. An officer said evidence at the scene of Doss' murder suggested "there was an attempted rape," according to court documents.

    In 1990, Ward was convicted of killing Doss and sentenced to death by lethal injection. 

    In 2008, Ward was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Since that time, his attorneys have been unsuccessful in attempts to convince the courts that executing Ward would violate a Supreme Court ruling, which prohibits states from inflicting the death penalty on someone who is insane.

    Ward's execution is scheduled for April 17.
  • 4 Stacey Johnson | Age 47 | 22 Years On Death Row
    A jury convicted Stacey Eugene Johnson of the murder of 25-year-old Carol Heath.<br><br>According to court documents, Johnson
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    A jury convicted Stacey Eugene Johnson of the murder of 25-year-old Carol Heath.

    According to court documents, Johnson committed the murder on April 1, 1993, in the presence of Heath's two children, ages 2 and 6. The young woman had been beaten and strangled before her throat was cut. Bite marks were found on both of her breasts, and physical evidence, along with a discarded condom wrapper, suggested she had been raped.

    Heath's oldest child was able to give police a description of the suspect and picked Johnson out of a photo lineup. Johnson was arrested two weeks later in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time, he confessed to killing "someone" and offered the two arresting officers $5,000 each if they would let him go, court documents state.

    In 1994, Johnson was convicted of capital murder. Before he was sentenced to death, a victim impact statement from Heath's oldest child was read in court.

    "I loved my mom," the statement read. "I miss my mom all the time. I think about my mom. I'm sad. It makes me cry. I have bad dreams. I don't want my birthday in April anymore … I don't want to be around anybody. I don't want any friends. I want to be by myself."

    Since his conviction, Johnson has maintained his innocence in Heath's slaying – something he reiterated during a 2015 clemency hearing.

    "If DNA testing had been done, I wouldn't be here today," Johnson said. "There was a lot of evidence to show that I didn't do it, but it was ignored. No one wants to listen to the evidence. I want to go back to court and get a fair and impartial trial."

    However, Assistant Attorney General Pamela Rumpz told the court the DNA evidence had already been retested and the results show the odds that DNA from two items of evidence -- hairs and a cigarette butt -- came from someone other than Johnson were 1 in 750 million and 1 in 28 million, respectively, KATV News reported.

    Johnson's execution is scheduled for April 20.
  • 3 Don Davis | Age 54 | 25 Years On Death Row
    Don William Davis is responsible for the execution-style slaying of 62-year-old Jane Daniel on Oct. 12, 1990.<br><br>Authorit
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Don William Davis is responsible for the execution-style slaying of 62-year-old Jane Daniel on Oct. 12, 1990.

    Authorities said that prior to shooting Daniel in the head with a .44 Magnum handgun, Davis, then 27, stole jewelry and other items from her Twin Lakes Estates home. Daniel's husband discovered her body in the basement.

    Davis was later arrested in Las Vegas. At the time of his arrest, he was still in possession of items belonging to the Daniels.

    A Bentonville jury convicted Davis of capital murder on March 6, 1992, and sentenced him to death.

    "What I did was an act of cowardice; it was cold blooded; it was evil," Davis said in a 2015 interview with KARK 4 News. "If the day I was found guilty ... they would've took me out the next day and executed me, I feel as though it would have been a just execution."

    Davis’s lawyers have argued against his execution. They claim a comprehensive medical examination of their client – something they say has never been conducted – would reveal a history of psychological trauma and intellectual disabilities.

    His execution is scheduled for April 17.
  • 2 Ledell Lee | Age 51 | 21 Years On Death Row
    Ledell Lee was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 26-year-old Debra Reese. <br><br>Reese's body was fo
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Ledell Lee was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 26-year-old Debra Reese.

    Reese's body was found in the bedroom of her Jacksonville home on Feb. 9, 1993. Authorities say she was strangled and struck approximately 36 times with a "tire thumper," a small wooden tool that truck drivers use to check the air pressure in their tires.

    Three 100-dollar bills were missing from Reese's wallet – money authorities say Lee used a portion of to pay a debt. After Lee's arrest, he was named a suspect in several unsolved crimes, including two murders.

    Lee was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death for Reese's homicide. He was also convicted of raping two Jacksonville women.

    Prosecutors later sought a conviction against Lee for the November 1989 abduction of 22-year-old Christine Lewis, who had been taken from her Sunnyside home in front of her 3-year-old child. Her body was later found in an abandoned house. Authorities say she was raped and strangled.

    The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Lewis' homicide.

    Lee maintains his innocence in the Reese murder. In the years since his conviction, attorneys have unsuccessfully convinced the courts of claims that he is intellectually disabled — mitigating evidence which might have swayed the jury toward a life sentence, the Marshall Project reported.

    Lee's execution is scheduled for April 20.
  • 1 Kenneth Williams | Age 38 | 16 Years On Death Row
    Kenneth Dewayne Williams had served roughly two weeks of a life sentence when he escaped from prison and killed a farmer and
    Arkansas Department of Corrections
    Kenneth Dewayne Williams had served roughly two weeks of a life sentence when he escaped from prison and killed a farmer and a delivery driver.

    Williams' trouble with the law began on Dec. 13, 1998, when he abducted Dominique Hurd, a cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and fellow college student Peter Robertson. After forcing the pair to withdraw money from a Pine Bluff ATM, Williams began shooting at them. Robertson survived, but Hurd died from a gunshot wound to the head.

    On Sept. 15, 1999, a jury convicted Williams of kidnapping and killing Hurd and of kidnapping and assaulting Robertson. After hearing his life sentence, Williams reportedly taunted Hurd's family, saying, "You thought I was going to die, didn't you?"

    Williams did not stay behind bars long. Nineteen days later, on Oct. 3, 1999, he escaped from a maximum-security prison in southeast Arkansas by hiding in a container of leftovers destined for a nearby pig farm. Once outside the prison gates, Williams made his way to a farm owned by 57-year-old Cecil Boren.

    Authorities say Williams stole guns belonging to Boren and shot the farmer seven times before fleeing in his truck. Williams managed to elude police for one day before he was spotted. A high-speed chase ensued and ended only after the vehicle Williams was driving collided with a delivery truck. The driver, 24-year-old Michael Greenwood, was killed in the crash.

    Williams was charged with capital murder in the killing of Boren. During his trial, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Garfield Bloodman told jurors Williams was caught wearing Boren's coveralls and two of his rings.

    "Talk about the nerve of this guy – one on each hand," Bloodman said of the rings.

    Jurors deliberated less than an hour before rendering a guilty verdict. Williams was sentenced to death on Aug. 30, 2000.

    Williams made headlines again in June 2005, when he confessed to another killing in a letter to the editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial. In the letter, Williams took responsibility for the death of 36-year-old Jerrell Jenkins, who was fatally shot the same day Hurd was killed.

    "I take full responsibility for my actions and whatever consequences my peers see fit," wrote Williams, who claimed to be a born-again Christian.

    Williams later pleaded guilty to killing Jenkins, for which he received another life term, without the possibility of parole.

    In appealing his death sentence, Williams argued his trial attorneys had failed to present evidence showing he had been physically abused as a child and suffered from severe learning disabilities. The arguments failed to sway the courts to grant Williams a new trial.

    Williams' execution is scheduled for April 27.

David Lohr covers crime and missing persons. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow him on Twitter.  

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