On death row, one man maintains his innocence, his family hoping he will be spared. In another case, a victim's daughter fights to get justice after decades of waiting.
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This programme contains some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting from the start.
AUTOMATED MESSAGE: This is a free call from...an inmate at...
This call is subject to recording and monitoring.
There was so much blood.
There was just so much blood all over the place.
There's been a 25-year nightmare for the victims that have had to deal
with this, and now it is time for that justice to be carried out.
-We have seen widespread protests in Arkansas and beyond,
as we inch even closer to the first scheduled lethal injection.
That's great, protect the murderers, uh?
Protect the killers and don't protect the people that they kill.
I'm not answering any more questions.
When does the state learn that this was going to expire at
the end of April?
You are going to kill them because the drugs are expiring?
This is theatre.
There's nothing about having 10 days to plead
for a man's life that's fair.
It's pretty much like a slaughter line, and...
Now it's been 25 years since he's been on death row.
So, let's get it over with.
It's justice for my son, is what it is.
Arkansas is planning to execute eight people in a ten-day period.
The rationale for this is that one of the three drugs
they are intending to use is going to expire on April 30th.
And so, there's a rush to execute them before that time.
Er, the drug companies are loathe to have their, er,
products used for executions.
And so, the Governor does not know if and when they will ever be able
to get more drugs.
How long have you got until the first execution?
The first execution is April 17th.
Er, the first of my three clients is set for April 20th.
-Stacey Johnson was convicted of the April 1st,
1993 murder of Carol Heath of Dequeen.
Prosecutor, Brian Cheshire, says it's time for justice.
It was a very horrific murder that was done in the presence of the
victim's two minor children, that were hiding in a closet.
I don't see how anybody could have a heart,
that could have done what this man did.
Carol Heath was found dead with her throat cut in her Dequeen Duplex.
Authorities say her six-year-old daughter identified Johnson in
a photo line-up. He was convicted by a jury trial twice.
In both trials he was sentenced to death.
There's no doubt in my mind this man is a very,
very dangerous man and, er...
..would be a danger for the same events occurring if he was allowed
to be walking our streets.
Stacey Johnson's the only one of the eight
who has a serious guilt/innocence issue.
The issue in his case was this,
there was a child in the home who was allegedly an eye-witness.
The question is, was she?
INDISTINCT CHATTER AND LAUGHTER
Good morning. We're here today in the matter of Stacey Johnson,
who's represented by his attorney, Mr Jeff Rosenzweig...
..in that Johnson has applied for clemency.
He's asking that his sentence be reduced from a death sentence to
life imprisonment without parole.
-Of that, Mr Rosenzweig, you may...
-..do your presentation.
-Can I thank the members of the Parole Board?
Er, the issue in Stacey Johnson's case
is that there was a small child,
who was the leading witness against him.
One mental health professional felt that the child was not confident at
the time to testify.
That she was essentially being browbeaten by her family into
identifying Stacey Johnson,
that there's some question as to whether
she had seen anything at all.
Er, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
This was the alleged eye-witness.
As a society, we should not execute people, er,
unless we are absolutely sure that they got a fair trial,
and that there is no doubt.
For close to 25 years,
I've been in the Arkansas Department of Correction for a crime
that I didn't do. I didn't kill Carol Heath at all.
But I've been here for it.
Now, I'm not sitting here asking you to free me or do anything else,
I'm just simply asking for the opportunity and the chance to get
my case back in court, so I can be heard.
That's all I'm asking for, cos I mean,
I'm a point right now where I'm about to lose my life for a crime in
which I didn't commit.
Judy Robinson-Johnson, Stacey's wife.
I am asking and pleading with this board to let my husband be able to
prove his innocence, and be one of the many who have been exonerated,
and not one of the many who were later found to be innocent after
they were executed.
They claim that he slit her throat.
Stacey did not do this crime.
If I knew for sure that he did do this...
..I wouldn't be here today.
I mean I was...I wouldn't be defending him
the way I'm defending him.
Breaking news, as the State of Arkansas and the entire country wait
to see if Arkansas will carry out a lethal injection
for the first time in 12 years.
We have seen widespread protests in Arkansas and beyond over
the push to execute as many as eight inmates as we inch even closer...
Is this the right chair here?
-Is this how you want me to look?
Any time a Governor has to set the execution dates,
it's one most sombre,
responsibilities a Governor has.
Er, it's not something you take lightly.
But you have to reflect upon how these cases began.
Each of these cases began with horrendous facts of, er,
individuals being murdered, and not just, er, in an ordinary fashion,
but in a particular heinous fashion,
that carries with it the aggravating circumstances that justify
the death penalty in the eyes of the jury.
My name is Veronda Brassfield,
I'm the executive director
of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty -
and again, I'd like
to thank all of you for coming out today and showing your support
for the cause to abolish the death penalty and to stop executions now.
We are set to make history around the world for something that's
atrocious, for an assembly line of executions and we need to call on
the Governor to ask him to have a change of heart.
A lot of... Is this on?
I think it is extremely likely that these executions,
if they go forward are going to go horribly wrong,
and are not going to end up the way the Governor
is expecting them to go.
The rush to use this drug is, you know, bad for the dignity that
they're trying to do eight in ten days,
but it's also a terrible idea because it's a terrible drug.
A lot of the midazolam executions have gone wrong,
and the problem is midazolam is not an anaesthetic drug.
In a surgical setting, it's used as a pre-anaesthetic, it's a sedative.
And so, it cannot induce general anaesthesia
which is how they're planning
to use it or how they think it's going to work.
But the second drug that's used paralyses all the voluntary muscles
in your body, including the muscles necessary to breathe
and so what happens is that the person, erm, feels like they're
suffocating, and its called air hunger.
And that's where you've seen these gasping,
coughing, horrible deaths like Joseph Wood in Arizona
where it took two hours
for him to die a torturous, horrible death.
So, we shouldn't be in a hurry to use it.
It's pretty much like, well, a slaughter line...
..isn't it? There's no dignity at all and it's...
..it's just inhumane...
..the way they want to do that.
It's OK, it's OK, it's OK.
Well, in Arkansas, I guess the majority of the people
are pro the death penalty.
In my opinion, it's justice.
I think that when a man or woman kills another person,
and they are found guilty and the death penalty is given to them,
I think they should be put to death.
They did it in the Bible, I mean, you know,
in the Bible they stoned them,
they didn't have all this fancy stuff we've got.
They stoned them to death.
It's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, yes.
You know, I'm about the most gentle person you could meet.
You know, I don't even like killing flies.
But this is, this is something totally different.
The state promised that they'd put him to death 25 years ago.
So, let's just do it and let's get it over with.
My mom was very, very nice and, er...
..kind. She was just very caring and loving.
That's the hardest part I have,
is trying to describe her because it's really, it's hard to do.
Why do you find it difficult to describe her?
Because she was just, like, perfect in my eyes.
And, erm, she was just perfect.
This is my mom and my dad, and that's me
and my older brother and sister.
Then this one right here, this is my mom with her three daughters.
This one was taken by a famous photographer from Time magazine and
you can see, you know, she's always dressed real proper.
You know, she had a full life.
This whole book is on her Near East travels, here's Cairo.
She went with Dr Frank C Lobar.
He's a famous missionary and she travelled around with him and taught
kids how to speak English, by her drawings.
She graduated with a BA in fine arts.
She was an artist.
This one is the one that she did of me.
You know, she had to get the sunlight and all that.
And I sat there and posed while she painted it.
I think it's a beautiful painting.
It means a lot to my mom and that's what matters.
And this is the last painting...
..that she did.
Had you seen your mum that day?
The day before, I'd seen her the day before.
We had a really nice lunch and then I left and she always,
every time when you'd leave she'd stand outside, you know,
and wave and...
So, I saw her in my rear-view mirror as I'm driving off.
My step-dad had been out of town, so she was home alone that evening,
and then the next morning she went into town to get her flu shot,
meanwhile, this guy's across the street.
He apparently was doing drugs since the night before.
He had already broken into the neighbour's house,
and there was an illegal gun that those neighbours had.
He saw my mom through the window drive up and pull into the garage,
and she didn't shut the garage door.
So, he goes over there with this gun and just walked in and, erm,
took her around the house and had her gather valuables.
And then he took her down into the basement into a back room
and executed her.
He just shot her in the back of the head for no reason.
It was just horrible.
He's the one that saw my mom last and that to me is so upsetting that
that's the last person that she saw.
That's why I want him...
..to be put to death and just to get this over with.
What will Don Davis' death achieve?
You know, I mean it's not going to prevent other people from killing,
that's not how I look at it.
It's truly to give the family, the people that loved her...
..peace. That's what it is for me.
-And you think you will get that?
My personal opinion about the death penalty, I think it's horrible.
I think it's totally misguided.
Oh, we're definitely heading in the wrong direction if we're doing
eight in ten days, certainly.
But, that's apparently the way we as a society have decided to go.
It's what amounts to a killing spree.
A killing spree apparently intended
to convince people that killing people is wrong.
What do you think your chances are
of being able to stop these executions?
Well, we have several things pending in court.
The odds are against us.
I think that it's going to do down to the wire,
at least with regard to the first executions.
Here in Federal Court,
lawyers will clash over the effectiveness of the drugs,
the state plans to use in the lethal injection.
Much of the focus today on midazolam,
it's a sedative and the first in the three-drug protocol.
Lawyers disagree on whether it's strong enough
to put the inmates into a deep sleep.
Inmate lawyers argue the second and third drugs would cause
We're going to be presenting evidence
from various medical personnel.
The state's going to respond with experts of its own,
and then Judge Baker will make a decision,
and, well, obviously he will have to make it fairly quickly.
It's a stressful situation because it's life or death.
It's a race against the clock for all parties involved to schedule
Arkansas' first execution in 12 years.
The inmates are hoping they can delay the process just long enough
for that first drug to expire on April 30th.
The state has called this hearing unnecessary and frivolous.
They want Judge Baker to make a decision so that they can get on
with those scheduled executions set for Monday.
These law suits being filed are to delay the executions,
the lawful executions of these individuals
who have been convicted by juries of heinous crimes.
If we were to win, it would be a finding
that they cannot use midazolam.
If you were to lose, I mean, what would that mean?
Well, it would show how little we have progressed
in terms of being a civilised society.
As you can see, Stacey...
..is a natural born artist.
This was close around to the first execution dates,
cos the first execution was around 2010.
When I look at those,
those that are sort of during a darker time frame in his life.
Everything was pretty much despair for him during that time.
Pretty much what this picture right here that he drew is him counting
down his days of him being on death row awaiting his execution,
and as he's sitting in his cell,
he's just contemplating everything that he's been through in his life,
you know, from being a former gangbanger,
being out there on the street as a young kid.
You know, he left home at an early age and he turned to the streets and
joined the Crips. For him, the Crips were his family,
you know, that's where he felt love, that's where he felt protection,
as a lot of young black males do.
So, you know, going from that and just throughout the things
that he's been through in his life, to now meeting my mother and I,
you know, a lot has changed for him, in the way he sees things now.
When it finally dawned on him that us as a family unit, together,
the paintings and the drawings and everything changed from these dark
looking items, as I say,
pretty much basically to Tweety Bird and squirrels and teddy bears and
everything. This is another item he just recently did for me.
It says, "'Thinking of you Marie", but my middle name is Marie,
so he always calls me Marie.
I met Stacey as a correctional officer.
I started work at Varner Unit,
Supermax, in June of 2003.
And the very first night he was just standing in the cell doorway.
There was a connection that I had, that I had with him when I actually
looked in his eyes. It was almost like you can...
..see and feel the actual sadness that was there.
It's kind of hard to explain.
Over time, pretty much, we got closer and closer,
fell in love, and July of last year, 2016, we were officially married.
That is Stacey and me.
And it was in the lobby area of the visitation area.
And that's the three of us.
He was pretty huge, he's large.
His hand can cover my entire face, you know, he's a large man.
He's pretty much been the love of my life,
you know, even though we don't have a normal marriage relationship that
everybody else has. But, you know, love is love.
I wouldn't change a thing, again.
..preparing myself that, hey, we might lose him.
The eighth amendment to the Constitution says that cruel and
unusual punishment, er, shall not be inflicted.
So, while a number of individuals may think,
"So what if these guys suffer or experience pain,
"they did something horrible,"
the Constitution is there to put a check on that.
What the litigation of Arkansas is about is
whether the lethal injection
protocol violates those Constitutional protections.
It's a battle of the expert witnesses again
here in Federal Court
as lawyer's clash over the effectiveness of midazolam.
Now, lawyers representing the State argue that the drug's FDA Label says
it is approved specifically for the induction of anaesthesia.
The Department of Correction points out that the US Supreme Court in
their 2015 ruling approved the use of midazolam for lethal injections.
I've been called as a witness to testify in court to talk about what
I saw when Joe Wood was executed by the State of Arizona
in 2014. The drug combination was hydromorphone and midazolam.
We saw Joe Wood strapped to the gurney with the IV lines sticking
out of his arms.
His eyes began to close, the colour started to leave his face.
It appeared to me that he had stopped breathing.
A minute or two later, it appeared like he yawned.
His head lurched back,
he bucked up against the restraining straps that were holding him to the
table, and then he started to gasp and gulp,
and struggle to breathe.
One reporter counted 640 gulps and gasps,
and that lasted for an hour and 57 minutes before Joe Wood
I can't believe that in the United States we do this to prisoners.
ADC Director Wendy Kelley testified tonight, saying they have been
practising the executions for the last week or so.
They're fully prepared for the executions to begin on Monday
as long as the court allows.
Were you guys ultimately pleased with what happened today?
Well, er, the judge hasn't ruled
but we felt we presented everything that needed to be presented.
We'll just have to wait and see what the judge rules.
Do you ultimately feel that she's going to halt these executions?
Er, I'm not going to predict what the judge does.
I know she was paying close attention
and I hope she sees it our way.
Obviously, this is a national and international story,
what is the message you believe that the scheduling of these executions
sends potentially about this state?
Er, we believe that this is just out of line with
any sort of standard that should be applied in criminal practice.
And that by doing this, erm,
it puts Arkansas far outside the bounds of what society accepts.
OK, excellent. Thank you.
-Oh, that's Wendy Kelley there.
-Yeah, there we go.
Great, erm, we're going to talk to you in one second.
-Let me ask you this.
-I'm not answering any more questions.
When did the state learn that this was going to expire
at the end of April?
Your department is about to execute these people in a short period of
time. Don't you think that the people of Arkansas should have an
answer to these questions?
Director, it's been more than a month
that we've been trying to get answers from the state,
and your department's about to execute these men.
Don't you think you should answer some of these questions?
Well, this morning a preliminary injunction was granted
in Federal Court to block the state's use of midazolam.
Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, filing an appeal within hours of
Baker's ruling being handed down.
Judge Baker's ruling was out of line with precedent of the Eighth Circuit
as well as the US Supreme Court.
The AG's office working overtime to make sure executions
go as planned on Monday.
The attorneys and the assistants,
and everyone here at the office,
are 100% committed to the people of Arkansas,
and committed to seeing the rule of law upheld and justice carried out.
The other inmate who is scheduled to be executed is Bruce Ward.
We want to give you a little bit of background on him.
He is a 60-year-old man who has been on death row now for 27 years.
He's been described as having severe mental disabilities.
Ward has been on death row for strangling Rebecca Doss.
This happened inside a convenience store in Little Rock.
She was an 18-year-old who had just graduated from High School.
Rebecca Doss' mother has been waiting nearly three decades
to see her daughter's killer be put to death.
What about their victims?
My daughter, you know, er, she didn't want to go that way,
she hurt too.
He put her through a lot.
I don't even try to imagine that.
We received a call about 2.40 in the morning,
a homicide out on Rodney Parham.
Now right here at Advanced Auto is where
the Jackpot Service Station was,
and that's where the victim, Rebecca Doss, was working,
and she was alone in that store.
According to her parents and friends, Rebecca Doss was very sweet
and loving and going to church,
and she did not come from a wealthy family.
She just took a night job trying to make some money, and, erm,
it's a shame something like this had to happen to her.
The video footage showed Mr Ward walking into the store...
..and he was asking Miss Doss for a key
to the men's bathroom, and you could see Miss Doss handing him the key,
and Mr Ward exited the building,
and you could tell that he went down the side of the building towards
the men's bathroom.
A few minutes later it showed
Mr Ward coming back into the store with this key in his hand, telling
Miss Doss that the key didn't work,
and he needed some assistance in opening up the door.
And that's where Mr Ward forced Miss Doss into the men's bathroom.
This happened about 2.40am in the morning,
and there's not a whole lot of traffic,
and there's not a whole lot of people out and about.
But the officer was just patrolling in his assigned district and when he
drove by here, he looked inside,
and he could not see the, er, store clerk at the desk.
He'd been in here numerous times and had talked to her,
and he just did not notice her.
So, he made a U-turn and he came back and parked and he walked in,
he didn't see her, so he thought,
"Well, maybe she went to the rest room area,"
and as he is approaching the restrooms Mr Ward
was coming out of the men's bathroom.
The other officer started searching the bathrooms,
and that's where they found Miss Doss dead.
It appeared in the bathroom that he strangled her with his hands,
and she was partially dis-clothed.
If it wasn't for the officer driving up at that time...
..I would, er, base my...
..facts on the fact that he was probably going to
commit a rape or sexual assault on her, after her death.
Bruce never admitted to his crime, he refused to give us a statement.
He never once said how it happened or why he did it, or if he did it.
..didn't say a word to us at all.
My belief is that two wrongs don't make a right.
However, I do believe that a person should be punished for what they've
done, but not punished to death.
I think they stay on death row way too long.
Some people think, "Well, they deserve that,"
but I think that's inhumane.
It's gotta be what I call hell on him to know that
any time he could die.
It's been years and I haven't heard nothing, now all of a sudden,
they're going to do eight of them.
It's like they're killing 'em because they can't use that no more,
not because of their crime, and that don't seem right.
I'm planning on...
..driving down to the prison...
..to witness the execution.
But we don't know at this point if it's going to go through.
There's been a couple of times that I've driven down there...
..and they called it off.
If this time its cancelled, I don't know if I can go through it again.
-Why is that?
-It's emotionally draining, erm,
I know it's not good for me to be going through this.
It's not...it's not healthy.
I think this time I'm really frustrated with the state.
They clumped them all together, so now it's made it a big deal,
so people are really up in arms, you know, they're thinking, "Oh, my God,
"Arkansas' crazy. They're putting all these people to death."
You know, look at my one story, each one is different.
You know, I wish they would have just done this one separate,
you know, six months ago or something
cos then maybe it wouldn't have been such a big deal.
Now it's been 27 years since he murdered my mom...
..and 25 years since he's been on death row...
..so, you know, let's get it over with.
I want to see for sure myself that he's dead.
I need to know that he definitely, he's gone,
and I won't have to deal with this again,
you know, I know people could tell me that,
but I need to see it for myself.
This is the house right here.
You know, that was my mom's house, she built it...
..and she loved this place. I mean, I see my mom all over it.
Behind the garage up there,
that's where she did her art work and she had a dark room,
so, yeah, it was a nice house.
It kind of... It's really nice to be back here.
I love this weather.
It's getting close.
Just looking around here at the Cummins Unit parking lot where we
are, we've got media from all over the world here, Canada, London,
the national networks, of course the local stations are here as well.
The changes constantly happen but we here are in a holding pattern.
Inside the Cummins Unit however, a different scenario unfolding.
Prison guards and officials are acting as if those two executions
will in fact take place despite all the legal changes.
But we still have plenty of time, because the death warrant expires at
the stroke of midnight.
"This is Jade F from Arkansas Department of Corrections,
"we are still planning for everyone to be at central office today
"at five o'clock.
"I will call you if something changes."
-You know, I saw on the news last night that he was moved to, er,
the execution unit.
So, you know, the state is obviously moving forward,
but at the same time it may or may not happen.
She's been through it twice and it didn't happen.
So, we've just got to think, "Well, this is a road trip,
"you know, we're going to Little Rock and we're going to go shopping,
"we're going to go out to dinner."
We could be hearing at any time,
get the phone call that it's not going to take place.
So, we've got to have the mind-set that we're just taking a
road trip, you know, we're going out of town and that just happens to be
the business that we're taking care of while we're there.
The execution was supposed to be at seven o'clock...
..and, er, we hope it goes through.
This is a really stressful time for people that are opposed to the death
penalty, that's why we're at the Governor's Mansion to call on our
Governor to ask him to call this whole plan off because this is
shedding a horrible light on our state,
and I think this is going to have some horrible ramifications
for years to come.
Yeah, law and order, it's called law and order.
You've gotta follow the law, it's amazing.
When we follow the laws, want to cry about the laws.
Follow the law.
What are you out here saying to these people that are here?
I'm saying we need to follow the... what I'm... Now, these people,
I don't know. They need to get a job for one, do something, man.
Where were they when they killed all those people?
When they raped and murdered that guy's wife, where were you all then?
That's what I'm saying, where were you?
And so, these executions to you, these would-be justice for...?
There's needs to be, sure.
Not me, what, hold up.
-It isn't me.
-8 times 12,
anybody know what 8 times 12 is, it's 96.
96 jurors said that those people need to be put to death.
Those trials were 20, some of those over 20 years ago.
-I'm sorry, what's your name, sir?
-I'm not going to tell you my name.
-Cos I don't want you to know it.
You want to speak out but you want to be anonymous?
Well, it doesn't matter about my name.
It's not about me or my name, man.
It's about the state of Arkansas.
The Governor needs to know
that the whole state of Arkansas is behind him.
They're doing the right thing, why are we protesting?
They're following the law. They're trying to do
what's supposed to have been done. Keep killers alive,
protect the killers and don't protect the people that they killed.
That's a great idea, that's a great philosophy.
Protect the killers.
Let's take a... Now, let's go and protect those murderers, man,
they've changed their lives or something, man.
Protect the murderers, that's great.
Protect the murderers, huh?
We'll protect the murderers, that's a great idea, man.
These people do not represent the state of Arkansas.
That man, the people that voted for him, and all that why he won,
that's what the majority represent.
The majority of the state want it, period.
Asa, we love you.
I'm sorry. It's fair enough.
Well, I'm just...there's clearly a problem with it.
That'll be good. Fair enough.
-I'm a good person, man.
-Do you know what I mean?
-That's why I just came to you.
Anyway, you all have a good night.
"Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed an emergency motion
"with the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse the blanket
"stay on executions ordered by Judge Baker,
"arguing the case should have been dismissed because
"the challenge over the drug
"has already been addressed in previous courts."
I'm really thankful for the people that are fighting on behalf of us.
It's kind of comforting to know that there's people out there that care.
So, the argument is this drug is unsuitable as an execution drug,
saying it is not a pain killer and can subject them
to a cruel and unusual punishment
and violation of the US Constitution.
Oh, my gosh.
I mean... Oh.
Would they rather have the electric chair?
You know, I mean, come on.
We are steps away from Arkansas' death chamber where Don Davis made
the move here on Friday night for his scheduled execution.
Bruce Ward has so far not been moved,
according to prison officials.
Now, Saturday morning of Easter Weekend, a federal judge,
Christine Baker, issued a stay of execution
based on the drug midazolam.
However, around 5.15 tonight an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
out of St Louis reversed her decision,
thus allowing these scheduled executions to go through.
The state got that win as you mentioned,
when the Eighth Circuit overturned
the Federal Judge here in Little Rock and said that yes, indeed,
midazolam is constitutional and the protocol that's used for lethal
injections in this state is OK.
Of course, a lot of the focus has been on the drugs being used.
Will they cause cruel and unusual punishment?
That awaits to be seen.
The potential effect of midazolam is that it's not going to have an
effect. It's not going to render them unconscious
and then the other drugs
will do their work while the person is fully conscious.
It's going to have a sensation of burning,
of being on fire throughout the body.
The person is also going to be paralysed and conscious
but unable to breathe.
I had a medical procedure and, er,
I was given it and I woke up a couple of minutes later fully awake.
You know, I don't that much about this drug,
but I do know that making another stay,
a guy has suffered, like, for an hour.
I've been suffering for 25 years.
Do you think Don Davis deserves to suffer?
Yeah, because my mom sure did.
So, yeah, he just totally deserves it and the longer the better,
If it lasts for 30 minutes or an hour or whatever.
..I don't care.
I know that sounds cold-hearted
but I really just really truly don't care.
It's disappointing for the judicial system
and the perception that people
have of it.
And the fact that these sentences were handed down decades ago
and we're still, we're still going through this
at the last minute.
It seems to be a lot of things that are being thrown at the wall to see
what sticks, hopping on different claims.
You know, er, I think that's the frustrating part.
Our staff has been trained,
and our staff is ready to carry out these sentences
that have been handed down by a jury.
Good evening, and thank you for joining us tonight at 10 o'clock
-everyone. I'm Bob Clausen.
-The state was hopeful earlier in the day
that both men and their sentences
would be carried out.
But Bruce Ward, we have learnt late tonight, will not be executed.
He was the first inmate set to die, at seven o'clock.
Now for Don Davis.
The only hurdle standing in the way is the Supreme Court of the United
States. If in fact that ruling does come down,
we have a two-hour window to execute Don Davis.
In expectation of the Supreme Court's potential decision,
we are moving forward with the selection of our media witnesses.
If there is not a consensus from the, er, eligible pool,
I will select by random draw.
Bobby, we'll try your last name.
Those individuals who were selected as media witnesses,
we will have an escort, er,
to take you to the witness centre.
I will ask that you sign an acknowledgement
that you agree to not record the execution in any way.
Witnesses will be taken, er,
to a room adjacent to the execution chamber where they will watch
the execution take place, when it takes place.
Again, it can happen any time between now and midnight.
Solomon Graves, the spokesperson
for the Arkansas Department of Correction
is sitting by the phone, which is where he remains stationed until
he gets that phone call which means
that the execution has been completed.
My mom would definitely be against the death penalty.
Yeah, she would not want him put to death.
That just shows what a wonderful angel she was, you know.
But I'm still here on earth.
If this is what needs to happen for me to have peace,
you know, bring it on.
We have just been made aware that the, er,
United States Supreme Court has maintained the stay of execution
for Don William Davis.
Er, the Governor's Office will be making a statement, er,
as to their perspective of tonight's decision and any next steps.
Thank you, guys, for your patience tonight.
It's been a really long evening.
I'll tell you right now that tonight the families of the victims are on
the Governor's mind. There's been a lot of talk about the inmates.
I would encourage you to remember the victims throughout this process
and their families who've had to go this nightmare for 20, 25,
30 years, and tonight the justice they were hoping to get, er,
they will once again, not.
That is my understanding.
Thank you, guys, very much.
The Department of Corrections attention now shifts to
the executions that are scheduled for Thursday.
At this point, there are no stays in place for either, er,
Stacey Johnson or Ledell Leaf, and we are under, er,
the impression and under the assumption that those executions
will, er, be carried out as scheduled.
Thank you all.
This was my third time and I got really close this time.
I mean, we were right there.
It's when turned that corner,
we were like getting ready to go into the... It was like...
-This is it.
-Yeah, this is it.
-Finally, what we've been waiting for.
You were sort of saying yesterday that you're not sure whether you're
going to do this again.
Yeah. But do you know what, I think I am.
It was, like, you know this really possibly could happen,
and I kind of had a feeling of...
..like a freedom, like,
"Oh, my gosh, this might just really happen,"
and there'll be, like, the skies will clear, you know.
Part of me could see that there would be closure.
There would be another feeling that I don't have yet...
..that will give me closure that'll, like...it's over.
So, there was like this, like, relief.
You know, I've taken care of business, it's done.
But, you know...
I saw him kill my mother.
And I want to know he's dead.
Ledell Lee is a super predator.
He kills for fun, he kills for thrill.
As his attorney, my number one job is making sure he doesn't die.
We're all here today to try to keep the state from killing people.
And they may still very well do it.
A documentary series about the historic number of executions scheduled in Arkansas, USA, of eight men in ten days. The Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, has scheduled eight men to be put to death within ten days of each other. The reason for the unprecedented timetable is to use up the state's supply of a lethal injection drug called midazolam before it expires. With access to the families of victims, and of those on death row, this series follows the eight cases from both sides, in the weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to each scheduled execution. From inside the prison walls, we also hear from the inmates themselves as they reflect on their crimes, plead for their lives and get ready to be part of the most condensed spate of death sentences in recent American history.
In this episode we meet death row inmate Stacey Johnson, who is scheduled to be executed for a crime that he claims he didn't commit. With just weeks to go, his wife Judy and stepdaughter Tasha are doing all they can to stop the execution from going ahead. We also meet Susan, whose mother was murdered in a home invasion by inmate Don Davis in 1990. Susan has been waiting for Davis's execution for decades and wants justice to finally be carried out so she and her family can find peace.