Documentary. A student murdered by a teen gang is a focus at the last execution day. And there is an extraordinary act of compassion from one family's daughter to another.
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This programme contains scenes which some viewers may find disturbing.
This is a bullet wound in Dominique's head.
I, Kenneth Williams, am responsible for this.
My goal was to make sure that we, uh,
did justice in Arkansas in a way that reflected well on the state.
This is theatre.
The problem is, Midazolam has a history of not working.
It does not dull the pain, and that's where you've seen these gasping,
coughing, horrible deaths where it took two hours to die.
Last Thursday night, Ledell Lee
became the first Arkansas death row inmate
put to death in 12 years.
Then on Monday, the first
double execution in this country since 2000.
I see Jason McGehee as a monster.
This is my boy and I don't want him to die.
ANNOUNCER: Well, welcome back once again to Cummins prison
after three executions in a week,
eight scheduled executions over the past ten days.
Uh, it's an incredible story.
The State of Arkansas uses lethal injection, uh,
to perform its executions and one of the drugs in that lethal injection
was about to expire and it appears that the State of Arkansas is unable,
uh, to acquire any more of that drug.
So, if these executions were to be carried out,
they all had to be done before the end of the month of April.
Judgment day arrives today.
We're keeping our eye on that,
and we'll bring you the latest throughout the night from here at
Cummins prison. Beth, let's go back to you in Little Rock.
-Governor Asa Hutchinson does have the power to grant executive clemency
for any or all of these inmates.
He has said he will maintain that option until the very end, with the
victims' families close to his heart.
Today is the clemency hearing for the parole board to go ahead and
execute the person that murdered my son...
..is what today is.
It's justice for my son, is what it is.
I walk in this room and I see a 50/50 chance...
..that he will be put down and then I see 50% that he will spend
the rest of his life in jail.
What would that be like for you and your family if he's let off the
-I will feel that John has been forgotten.
What is very difficult on the victims' families is that these
cases continue to be reviewed.
The inmates have a right to ask for clemency and they have to go before
the parole board and have to express themselves and go through the trauma
again, but the victims' families - that I talk to - say if it's
the law of the land and a jury metes out that punishment, uh,
then that should be carried out.
I remember my grandma telling me that John was gone, and I told her,
I said, '"I don't know what you're talking about.
"What are you talking about?"
And she said, "Baby, they've found him."
I said, "Oh, well, good, John's going to come home," you know.
-She said, "No, baby, they've found him in the woods."
And then she said, "He's gone, he went to be with Jesus."
So, I literally jumped out of the car and just fell.
And she was sobbing, my little brother was sobbing,
and I cried so much that I got sick.
I didn't understand why someone would do that to my brother because
he had a heart of gold, he would help anybody.
It's something that happened to all of us.
We have to make sure that his life and his death was not in vain.
And I mean, and that's...
..that's all we can do.
But... You OK, Dad?
I can remember so many things from whenever I was six.
I remember the day that they found John.
I remember my mom just broke down crying,
she held me, and I'm just trying to figure out why for the longest time,
for about two weeks I was asking my mom, I'm like, you know, "Where is John?"
You know, "Is John going to come home?"
Is... you know, "Where's John?" Like, "I miss John, where is he?"
You know, I'm only six years old.
You're OK, sis.
Hopefully, today will give us some... Give us some closure.
This case was about Jason McGehee's direction and participation in
Harrison, Arkansas in 1996,
in an hour's long torture and murder of a 15-year-old boy.
The victim in this case was John Melbourne Junior.
He was a young boy who was described as eager to please other people.
He was a special education student and, like a lot of young people,
impressionable. I don't think you can make this decision that you're
asked to make - which is very weighty - unless you have
all the facts. You should know what it is that you're being asked to forgive here.
He tried to make the best life that he possibly could with his,
It took him longer to learn.
Other kids would be picking on him and stuff, calling him stupid and stuff.
And he'd get frustrated and aggravated with it all.
So, he would, he would skip school.
Back then, in the 1990s, all the young kids would hang out at the square.
He started hanging out with this gang because he wanted acceptance.
Knowing John, he thought that he could trust them and that they were
Jason McGehee, Ben McFarland and Chris Epps,
as well as a couple of others, were involved in a string of thefts.
Jason was 20, he led the group, he was in charge.
Among the things they had taken were some blank cheques and they were
encouraging John to use those blank cheques, to pass them
and then get some cash in addition to that.
John went to a shoe shop and he went in and tried to get a pair of shoes.
They let him go ahead and pass the bad cheque and they gave him the
shoes, which was when we became involved.
He wound up telling us what he knew about the group that had been
committing the thefts that we had been investigating and passing the
-They called me up from work.
I went down to the police station and the detective told me what happened,
and that he was going to release John into my custody and let me take
I told John to stay home...
..um, not to go anywhere.
I'd be back home in a little while from work and uh,
we would talk about this.
When I got home, he was gone.
This house is where Jason and his friends would hang out,
this was their crash house.
I can only imagine my brother walking down this hill...
..and then walking down them steps and up on that porch...
..and not realising what's about to happen.
Jason McGehee thought that John...
John knocked on the door,
Christopher Epps punched my brother in the face and grabbed him and
pulled him into the house.
And that's when they all started beating on John.
One of the things that does stick out in my mind is that Chris Epps
would repeatedly kick John with some type of kung fu kick.
That was really only a pre-cursor to the beating that was given to John
at the abandoned house, um, near Omaha.
They had John bound, so that he couldn't escape,
and they drove him to the house at Omaha.
At one point, one of the participants asked John how it felt
to know that he was going to die.
So, it became apparent that the group had some type of plan in mind.
At the house, there is a lengthy beating process that takes place,
that particularly Chris Epps is involved in, as well as McFarland
and Jason McGehee.
His arms and legs were broken...
..he had broken ribs, and they broke all his bones in his face and his
skull was fractured in many places.
Until they finally brought him this way.
I'm sure he was scared.
At some point, the group made a decision to execute John,
they were going to kill him and the way they were going to do that was
to take him out into the woods, some distance from the abandoned house.
Ben McFarland and Chris Epps put John on his knees and they take
turns strangling him with a piece of electrical cord.
One person would hold the cord, one end in each hand, with the cord
around John's neck from behind,
and they would put their knee into his upper spine or the back of his
neck and push forward until they could hear him choking and gurgling.
It is ultimately Ben McFarland who tells me in an interview that he was
the one who was actively strangling John Melbourne when he loses his life.
I've gotta deal with this, losing my son.
I live with this every day.
There ain't a holiday that don't go by...
..that I don't cry.
To do something like this to a child, a 15-year-old child,
think if it was your child, how would you all feel?
The victims of crimes, I've been noticing, don't get justice,
but I promised John that I would get justice for him, I would be his
voice and I will be his voice till I die.
basically, our family fell apart.
My parents got a divorce, us kids were separated.
And just, to be honest, everything went to hell.
It was a living hell after that.
During the course of the interviews, it became quickly apparent that
there was one person who was leading the group and that was Jason McGehee.
This event happened primarily because of McGehee's involvement and
depending on whose statement you care to give more credence to, um,
one person was more responsible than the others,
but the common denominator in all of the statements was that McGehee
orchestrated everything and McGehee was in charge of what happened that night.
Jason McGehee received the death sentence,
Chris Epps was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
I occasionally check on him and make sure he's still in there.
Uh, Ben McFarland was also given life without parole.
That was later overturned by the Supreme Court because of his age at
the time. He took a plea deal and agreed to take the maximum sentence,
which was 40 years. That makes him eligible for parole in 2025.
In my opinion, did Jason McGehee receive a fair sentence for
what happened? Yes.
Do you think it's right that the person who actually took John's life
could be out of prison, and someone that didn't actually take John's
life, could be put to death?
Do I think that's right?
I think that...
..I am not the person that had to make that decision.
-You did good.
-How did it go?
-It was emotional.
I'm not sure.
I-I think they'll really think it over, um,
I'm not sure.
Arkansas is just really, um, a good Christian state.
We have a Christian governor in our state, which is wonderful.
Governor Hutchinson is a conservative governor.
He was elected in 2014 and, you know, I can honestly say that I
voted for him. And he's doing an exceptional job.
He's very pro-life.
We have a march for life every year, against abortion,
and he's always there.
I think he's a really good Christian honest man,
and he's trying to do good for our state.
How can you be a Christian and kill someone?
You're pleasing one part of the Bible Belt, but you see what I'm saying?
People that believe in justice as the Bible says it,
but they don't ever think about the other part of Christianity,
about how you're supposed to love your neighbour and, you know, give
people forgiveness and all that kind of stuff.
We do not rape rapists and say that is just.
We do not steal from thieves and say it is just.
We do not torch the homes of arsonists and say it is just.
However, we somehow have the notion that it is morally justifiable to
kill in pre-meditated and deliberate fashion -
that's the legal definition of murder -
people who have killed,
and we say that is morally justifiable.
That is nonsense.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are
And they are endowed by their creator with inalienable
rights, and among these are life,
that's the first one.
-The empire is not the giver of life.
This is about politics...
..it's about politics...
..and you can quote me on this, come on.
You are going to kill them because the drugs are expiring?
This is theatre.
Political theatre, so that people can say, "We killed people
"y'all don't like."
That is not justice any time.
It's a lynching.
Jesus' work was dangerous work, if you challenged Herod in his palace,
that's dangerous work.
If you challenge the governor, that's dangerous work,
if his name is Pontius Pilate, or the name of your governor here,
that's dangerous work.
If you challenge the powers that think they have the right to decide
over life and death, and who will die and who will live,
-whether that was a fair trial or...
..whether the death will be too painful, it doesn't really matter.
The one for blood lust is the one with power and that's the one who
wants to make the decision. If you challenge that, that's dangerous work.
-The world in which we live is a bad world,
but Jesus can make it right.
Some lawmakers are calling for a Pulaski County judge to resign,
after he took part in a protest on Friday.
Judge Wendell Griffen has become controversial after he went to the
Governor's Mansion to protest.
Judge Griffen publicly protested capital punishment.
He's currently not allowed to hear cases pertaining to the
death penalty or execution protocols.
The death penalty is just,
it's good against evil.
I see Jason McGehee...
..as a predator.
I see Jason McGehee as a monster.
If the clemency is not granted, will you be at the execution?
I will watch him. I will watch him.
McGehee was there to see my brother take his last breath,
I'm going to be there to see him - McGehee - take HIS last breath.
It's their choice.
They, they want to watch him be
executed, then that's, that's on them.
I don't want to see another person die.
For a long time, I was for capital punishment, until I started doing a
lot of soul-searching on my own.
I have come to the conclusion to that it's not going to benefit me
in the end.
I don't want to see anyone else suffer...
..as my family has.
My heart aches for his family.
It's heartbreaking to think of that...
..to know that it looms over your head.
I can't imagine.
This was Jason's baby picture, right after he was born.
I was really glad that he was a boy.
All the rest of my kids is girls, they're all girls.
He was my only boy.
Um...this picture here and everything,
he was with me in my pick-up.
He's like anybody else, um, any kid growing up.
He got with the wrong crowd.
My family was Confederate - that's uh,
General Jackson with his troops out in the forest.
This here is Robert E Lee.
Jason done them all by hand, he's a very good artist.
He made that for... He handmade that.
A person that is distorted
and angry at the world and everything like that,
couldn't make anything as beautiful as this.
I feel sorry for John's family and everything like that,
and I wish there was something I could do about it or reverse everything.
But this is my boy,
and, um, I don't want him to die.
This is my garden here.
I'm building it up and everything here.
I'll take these old tyres and fill them full of dirt until I get a wall.
I've got two more rows, I've got this row and another row.
Then I'm putting loads of dirt in here and raise everything up for a
raised garden and everything.
It'll work out pretty good and it don't cost me really that much, uh,
the price of dirt and that's about it.
And when Jason was here, he helped me a lot.
He likes, he likes flowers, he liked trees, bushes, gardening, um,
he likes the same thing as I do.
He's been incarcerated for a long time.
He don't go outside, he's in a box all the time.
You know, whenever I go down there,
he's like a little puppy, cos he's very grateful somebody comes down to
see him and we talk and talk and talk,
and I wish there was something that I could do for him or bring him or
something like that. But, uh, there's not too much I can do.
The clemency hearing is supposed to give a valuation to see if they can
take Jason off death row.
I'm anxious about it, I want him to start looking forward...
..to a life besides that prison.
If they get him off death row, maybe we can get him off the rest of it
and everything for what, he's spent 19, 20 years down there.
He's... For something he didn't even do, and, um,
I'd like to see him out.
We are here today in the matter of Jason McGehee, who is serving a
sentence of death. And Mr McGehee is,
in fact, requesting life without parole.
Good morning, Chairman, and members of the board.
This is Jason, I'm John Williams, um,
and we appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to make our
case for clemency. You, as the parole board, are in the unique and
really awesome position of doing something that no court is able to do,
and that's to look at Jason McGehee as a whole person, and despite his
offence, to say that there is value to his life and that the state
should not take it.
First, I would like to address the disproportionality in sentences, uh,
between Jason and the primary co-defendants in this case, uh,
Ben McFarland and Chris Epps.
This was a group action through and through.
No-one disputes that Ben,
Chris and Jason all participated in John's beating.
No-one disputes that each of them was present at John's death,
and no-one disputes that it was Ben who actually killed John.
But Chris now has a life without parole sentence and Ben will have
the opportunity to come before you in 2025 and request parole.
We don't begrudge Ben that,
but the difference between parole and death in this circumstance is
too great a difference. The second point - and I think this is perhaps
the most important one, uh, Jason has shown after his incarceration, uh,
that he has been rehabilitated.
He's been back there for 19 years and in those 19 years he has received
only one disciplinary infraction, which was for covering a light.
He's never been violent, he's never bothered anyone.
Ray Hobbs is here, the former director of the department and, uh,
he's going to tell you a little bit more about how remarkable that is.
-ALL: Good morning.
I believe in the death penalty, I do.
Justice, justice should include mercy, redemption,
forgiveness and now
if you take all those into factor and you look at Jason...
..with those factors, I think you would have to come to a conclusion,
he has learnt his lesson.
If you can get up 19 years in a row and not have a...
..bad day with staff or other inmates, that's pretty remarkable.
I mean, I have not, in my 40 years, seen a file that clean.
Yes, it would be my recommendation
that this board consider Jason for clemency.
I think he has a lot to still offer that he can give to others,
if his life is spared.
The short time I knew John, he was always a friend.
I never wanted John to die.
I regret my involvement in that whole night.
I wish I could change what happened.
John deserved to live, none of this should have happened.
All my co-defendants, except Chris Epps, get the chance
to be out there, including Ben, and become better people than we were
that night, as out-of-control kids.
Maybe they can make up for our actions a little bit but none of us
can take it back, none of us can
take the pain away from John's family.
I wish I could make my involvement up to them, but that's not possible.
I'm sorry for my involvement. I know they can't,
but I wish they could accept my apology.
I also know this is a hard position that this board is in deciding life
and death, and I'm sorry you're in the position because of me.
Thank you for listening to me and thank you for your time.
On a personal note, uh,
I've known Jason for a year and a half, since I was assigned to his case.
I visit him often, I've gotten to know him.
He's my friend.
He's a good human being, no matter what other people say about him
later today, and his story is a testament to how a life can be rehabilitated and
redeemed and executing him would just be the waste of a life of a
person who has a lot of good left to give to this world.
So, I would ask the board to recommend clemency.
-Thank you very much.
This is my brother...
-..when he went to go and visit his brother.
Josh. That was the last picture his mom had of her son.
This is all of us together.
We were pretty happy then.
-..and that's me.
-Is that the last family picture that you have?
He was our protector.
There's times where I will sit there and just talk to him,
like this interview, I didn't know if I should do it,
but I knew that John would want me to get his story out...
..and I don't think John would want him to be executed.
I don't think he would.
I really don't.
You are very different from your sister in the death penalty,
-in your views.
-What do you think needs to happen?
I feel that Jason McGehee needs... needs the death penalty.
He chose to take a life and he has to pay for what he did.
It killed me knowing that...
..my brother had to experience this, because he was such....
He was a good boy, he was a good brother.
He didn't deserve that.
I was for the death penalty for a long time.
Once I forgave him, that's when I...
..I was released from that prison.
..my sister can get... Reach that point too.
Um, um, I don't know. I can forgive a lot...
-..it's just he, he has to pay for what he's done.
-You can't just...
-..use that excuse though.
I know, I get what you're saying.
You know, the severity of that situation. It's... It has to, in my opinion, it has to be done.
It's, you know...
-OK, so what if...?
-An eye for an eye, that's my view.
OK, so what if they come back and say, "You know what, we're just going to go
"ahead and just let him..." Life with, uh, life without parole.
Are we good with that?
-No, I wouldn't.
-Because, for one, he'll be living off of us once again.
The same with all the other people that were involved,
-and we...like, during our childhood, during everything...
-..the crap that we went through.
-I know that.
And we struggled, and they couldn't.
-They have a roof over their head, they had food in their stomach...
-I know what you mean.
..while we had to starve. No.
But it would also mean that we don't have to deal with it any more.
We don't have to worry about it going back to the Supreme Court,
we don't have to worry about worrying if he's going to get out.
We don't have to worry about any of that, we can actually move forward.
And that, that, I think, would be the best thing.
I'm just... It would be peace of mind for me.
What about peace and love, maybe?
-For me, it would, so...
Well, all right...
I don't believe, uh, in the death penalty.
I just don't believe it. I couldn't do it.
And to me, if a person is being punished in the prison,
that's punishment enough, punishment enough, for me.
I think it's a damn shame we have to do it,
but there are certain people that need to be...
..done away with rather than spend our hard-earned money trying to
Rehabilitating someone on death row, that's poppycock.
How could you take someone that did something so terrible and turn them
back into a good person?
In my opinion, it can't be done.
Each of these cases began with individuals being murdered in a
heinous fashion, and some people say,
"Well, why don't you just keep them in prison forever?"
Well, you have to worry about... Are they going to be a danger to, uh,
danger to those who have to guard them and have contact with them in prison?
One of the inmates was given life in prison without parole and he
escaped and killed somebody.
The interesting thing about Kenneth Williams is that he has undergone an
extensive transformation, uh, in prison.
I've been on his case, uh, for a number of years and he has, uh,
..very impressively during that time.
And his case presents a question - does change,
rehabilitation, remorse have any impact on whether death should be
inflicted as a remedy?
God have mercy on this wretched man,
conceived in sin,
brought forth in iniquity.
I was raised in a dysfunctional home where there was drug abuse.
After my parents' separation, when I was eight years old,
I was sexually molested by another kid.
I was guilt-ridden,
too ashamed to speak out,
and so I suffered in silence and in loneliness...
..out of which came forth vengeance and a vow...
..never again to be victimised prey.
To be the one on the offence, not the defence.
To be the predator, not the prey.
Hello, everybody, how are you doing?
I'm Lieutenant Greg Bowman,
I'm a criminal investigator with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department
and we're at the Bonanza Restaurant in Pine Bluff,
the scene of a kidnapping that led to a murder and attempted murder
that occurred on December the 13th of 1998.
Also present is victim Peter Robertson.
-Peter, is this the parking lot where it started from?
-Yes, it is.
OK, just walk and show me what happened where.
Nicky Hurd and Peter Robertson had been to church when Kenneth Williams
took the opportunity to pull a gun on those two college students.
Forced them into the car that they had borrowed.
He drove them around Pine Bluff,
he took them to an ATM to get money out.
I told myself, "I will release them unharmed."
They weren't a problem at all.
I had what I wanted, money.
Then he had them get on their knees behind an abandoned building off
Hardin Reed Road, got in the car, to steal their car and leave,
and then he backed up...
"They saw your face...
"..they'll expose you to the cops.
"Aren't you still on parole?
"You are so busted, that is unless you go back and get rid of the problem."
Sadly, I went back.
I shot both of them execution-style...
..while one held on to a Bible and the other begged for their lives.
I felt nothing.
This is a bullet wound in Dominique's leg.
I am responsible for that.
This is a bullet wound
in Dominique's thigh...
VOICE BREAKS: I am responsible for this.
This is a bullet wound in Dominique's head...
I, Kenneth Williams, am responsible for this.
The young man ended up surviving the encounter, while the young woman
had her life senselessly stolen away.
In 1999, I was given a sentence of life without parole.
At 20 years old, I barely missed the death penalty.
-Publicly, Kenneth Williams seemed amused by the idea of going to
prison for the rest of his life.
During his September trial, he reportedly laughed when his sentence
was announced, and told the slain teenager's family, quote,
"You thought I was going to die, didn't you?"
Two wrongs don't make a right, killing him does not bring her back.
As long as he's being punished or as long as he's in prison, then we're fine.
Last Sunday, he brought his victim's parents even more grief when he
escaped from prison, and no-one knows exactly how.
We found a bed sheet outside the chapel, on the ground.
There is the possibility that that could have been used as a way to
help climb one of the cross fences, one of the interior fences.
As officials interviewed fellow inmates and guards,
residents in nearby Grady question the security of the prison that's
been this community's neighbour for nearly 100 years.
During my escape,
I felt compelled to eliminate any threats that could jeopardise my
efforts for freedom.
I cold-bloodedly shot and killed a man with his own gun,
in his own home.
Cecil Boren was 57.
He was a father, a grandfather,
a husband for 34 years to his wife, Jean.
Cecil had stayed home from church that morning to work in his yard.
Williams shot Cecil seven times,
killing him and then stealing his truck,
his guns and other valuable items.
He drove Cecil's truck to Missouri, where he led police on a high-speed
chase, killing another person, driver Michael Greenwood.
Not yet 21 years old,
within a few months of my first death penalty trial, the State of Arkansas
pursued the death penalty against me for capital murder.
The second time around, the state succeeded.
My reason for making an appearance before you
is to answer the critics who say, "Lock them up, throw away the key,
"there's no changing this one."
Inside my prison cell on death row
I surrendered my life to Christ, if he could accept it.
On September 4th, 2005,
I officially became an ordained minister in the First Trinity Church
Of God In Christ, and life for me hasn't been the same since.
I'm a death row preacher.
My prison cell has become my pulpit.
Let me be an example.
Behold, God's workmanship...
..transformed and in his right mind.
All right, this will conclude the executive clemency hearing for
Kenneth Williams. Thank you very much.
These people deserve to be punished.
We're not talking about death versus being out on the street.
We're talking about death versus a lifetime of incarceration.
Looking ahead, Kenneth Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection
on Thursday. The original schedule set by the governor had two
executions but Jason McGehee will not be put to death.
He's the only condemned prisoner who received a recommendation of
clemency from the parole board, following his hearing last month.
A judge also stayed his execution.
The Attorney General says she's not challenging that ruling.
The parole board recommended clemency.
His execution will not happen on the 27th of April.
Right now, they're waiting to see if Governor Hutchinson grants him
clemency and if he does not grant him clemency then....
..then he will get a new date for execution.
So, right now we're just waiting on the governor to decide.
I'm getting tired of us being pulled around,
trying to figure out what's going on.
I am - yes - very angry about them recommending the clemency,
but right now it's just... It's hard to express because I am.
I'm mentally, I'm physically drained.
He's not worth your energy.
Just give him life without parole, he'll be gone from our lives,
he won't be in our life any more.
I don't ever hear about Christopher Epps and he has life without parole.
We don't ever hear about him...
..and if he had life without parole, we wouldn't have to hear about
Jason McGehee. And that's it.
Yeah, with knowing, you know, what all has happened,
you know, what we had to endure...
..just with the executions...
..honestly, I think I would agree,
you know, like, with the whole life without parole because it...
Right now, it's just... I'm so mentally drained.
It's, it's becoming overwhelming, it really is.
I just... Yeah, honestly, I'd go with life without parole, just screw it.
I don't... I'm just... I'm done...
..I'm burned out.
I haven't had the chance to get in here because of the weather.
I've put sweet potatoes in, beans, cabbage and the tomato plants.
And then my watermelons...
..and cantaloupes, is what I've been planting.
It's coming around, it's just going to take time.
Now he has the recommendation,
clemency is just out there.
The only reason that he wouldn't get clemency is that the governor just
kind of says, "Heck with it," and not give it to him.
It's not right that they prosecute him, like, death row, and they don't...
..don't prosecute the others that actually done it.
This is a letter of declaration from Chris Epps,
one of the boys that killed that kid.
It says, "As far as John's death is concerned,
"I started it and Ben finished it.
"Jason really should not have received the death penalty.
"What I did was no-one's fault but my own, but I tried to blame Jason.
"I was the first one to hit John, Jason did not ask me to do this.
"I just...did it.
"I choked him at the end.
"Both Ben and I strangled John.
"Jason never strangled John.
"My lawyer always said the best defence strategy would be to say
"that Jason was the main one.
"I wasn't coerced in any way by anyone to do anything to John."
And then he signs it...
..June 13th, 2011.
I think the governor will accept the recommendation, um, I hope so.
He should have time served and let him out, but, uh,
they're not going to do that.
at least he'll be... At least he'll still be alive.
All right, ladies, you all have a good day.
-Y'all take care.
He had no mercy,
he had no...nothing for human life when he killed my son.
So, I don't see...
..uh, why people have mercy for him, you know, and if, if our peers,
if our peers, our 12 peers in the courthouse listened to all the evidence
and seen all the evidence
and says guilty...
..for capital murder and receives the death sentence,
then it should be carried through.
All these, all this other stuff is hogwash.
It's just a way of trying to get a person off death row...
..but not actually seeing what that person's done...
..not only to my son, to my whole family...
..or any victim's family.
It's not right. I mean, you know...
..that's the way I look at it. So, that's the way it is.
People can have unconditional love for you,
a stranger that's never met you, somebody that can connect with you,
just even somebody just walking by...
..you can bring a beautiful thing out of any situation.
There can be good out of anything.
Kenneth Williams is convicted of killing my father.
I was five when it happened.
-Do you remember your father?
-What was your father like?
-Goofy, funny, a jokester,
the life of the party, the life of the room.
Everybody loved him.
He was a great guy, a great dad.
He just wanted to be...
..a dad, a family guy, you know.
We were not born.
He died in October, and we were born in December.
They never met him, but they look just like him and they act like him.
-I mean, we know what it's like growing up without a father and we
would give anything to meet him.
Oh, I'm so nervous. What time is it?
I guess, so... So she should be landing any minute.
We are waiting for Jasmine and her daughter.
Jasmine is Kenneth William's daughter,
and she should be getting off the plane any time now.
Yeah, it's from Denver, Denver, Colorado.
Well, my mom had sent me a link and Jasmine said that it had been
17 years since she had seen her dad,
and I just related to that so much, because it has been 17 years since
I've seen my dad, and you know, I just, I would want that so much.
So, just for her to be able to have that is amazing.
How is she actually affording to get here?
My mom and stepdad bought the tickets for them.
Tomorrow, she will be a victim, and her daughter, you know.
And so, anything we can do to give comfort, make it
any better, you know, I... I dunno...
Hi! My name is Kayla, it's nice to meet you.
Don't be scared. It's OK.
You're so beautiful.
Are you excited?
You're going to see your grandpa.
I don't feel anything but love for him.
I feel like he was the first victim.
You know, you're not born evil...
..or a monster, it's created through his life, his trauma, I don't know.
But I mean, trauma can change you, a bad childhood,
it changes the course of your life.
that the guy that did those things -
horrible things - is already dead
and this is a new guy that, you know, this isn't the same guy.
So, that's a good thing, that's justice, you know.
Come on, I'm coming in too.
We're going to all get in together, your mommy's going to ride next to you.
I have a lot of guilt towards
the victims and
the families that he's hurt.
And then because he's hurt those people, it's led to me not having a
father and everything, as well. So, I do not know why,
and I've always wondered what drove him to do these such crazy callous
things because I'm, like, even though I'm his daughter I, I don't, like,
get into fights or anything, I could never hurt anyone, you know.
-I just have...
-..just so much questions.
-..that I haven't been able to ask.
I think it went pretty well.
They took some pictures.
Oh, you got some photographs, wow.
And this is his parents, as well, too.
I feel a little bit better now that I finally got to see him and got to say my goodbye
-and everything, and...
-He was so excited, he said it,
"You know, I haven't seen..." he
said, "I can't think of the last time I saw a child."
Yeah, he just, he said that too.
Are you going to get to see some family?
Yeah. I got to meet my grandfather and see my grandma for the first
time in over 18 years.
You remember that when you left, you were, you were like this.
-And I didn't even realise that I came here before and he was, like,
it was the same room and, you know...
Most people, they say they've changed and, like, their actions
show different. And it's, like...
..with him, I, I do believe that he really has changed.
He really has. I mean, he's, he's a really outstanding human being.
We have pleadings filed in lots of different courts, uh,
both state and federal, and now the stays of execution is filed, and
you know, we're hoping for the best.
It's an uphill battle, but we're hoping for the best.
What do you think his chances are?
I don't think they're so great.
I'll do my very best.
Society has everyone believing that the ultimate justice you can get is
death. When you get that, you've got the ultimate justice for your loved
one, for your family, for, you know, and it's just not true.
That's not justice.
So, everyone just believes that, they believe a lie.
ANNOUNCER: We are here once again tonight, this is our fourth time at Cummins
since a week ago Monday.
Uh, we have seen three executions so far, one more scheduled for tonight.
We have just seen the witnesses arrive for the scheduled execution
of Kenneth Williams, who murdered Cecil Boren back in 1999.
His judgment day arrives today.
There was another inmate, who was recommended for clemency, and because
he won that recommendation of clemency, his execution was put off.
Earlier this afternoon, Kenneth Williams received his last meal.
In lieu of a last meal he requested, uh, communion.
And communion was administered to him by his spiritual advisor.
ANNOUNCER: Breaking news -
we have now learned that Kenneth Williams is the latest Arkansas
death row inmate to be put to death by the state for his capital crimes.
-He was pronounced dead.
The first injection happened at 10.52pm.
11:05 being the time of death here.
The following is the last statement of Kenneth Williams.
"To Kayla Greenwood and the whole Greenwood family,
"the acts of grace,
"forgiveness and mercy you demonstrated toward the person who
"had taken so much from you, by bringing to me in prison my own baby
"right before my scheduled execution...
"No rapist, murderer, terrorist, butcher, barbarian,
"not even old Beelzebub himself could withstand such a blast of
"glorious light and continue to walk in darkness.
"The next words will be spoken in my native language tongue..."
At which point, he spoke in what would be commonly described as
Also, uh, I do want to make you all aware that
I was informed that at approximately
10.55pm Kenneth Williams did, uh,
shake for approximately ten seconds.
The media witnesses are en route back to the centre.
Had the consciousness check been performed when he shook?
That's the extent of the information I have at this time.
-At 10:55, Kenneth Williams did, quote, "shake".
This does seem to be a bit out of the ordinary compared to, to some
of the other, uh, executions.
We will wait to see exactly what happens there.
Uh, since we're all on a deadline I'll start with what we all have
in our notes as, "Coughing, convulsing, lurching, jerking with sound."
Even with the microphone turned off,
we were actually able to hear
things in the witness area from the execution chamber.
The execution started at 10:52 and at the time, uh,
Mr Williams was speaking in tongues,
his body lurched forward as though... We were trying to describe it,
it was, like, if you're on a bumpy road and you hit a bump and your
body gets thrown forward, er...
It happened about 15 times in quick succession, then it slowed,
and then there are other times in our notes, where it appeared as
though he was gasping.
Uh, but it was clear he was, um, striving for breath.
At 11:05, the coroner pronounced him dead.
Having never witnessed an execution like this,
to me, it looked like there was something wrong.
Like it wasn't going smoothly.
With the chest moving up and down, with the body movements,
with the sound of his voice gasping for air,
trying to breathe, it just didn't seem like that...
That was not at all what I expected.
Uh, the next individual to address the pool will be
J R Davis, Communications Director for Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Um, first of all, most of you, if you haven't received a statement
from the governor, I can get that to you.
It's a night of reflection for Arkansans,
who should have a renewed faith in the judicial system in our state
because that justice was carried out tonight.
The other day, you described the executions so far as, "flawless".
Do you think that description still fits, given what was described with
Basically, it's an involuntary muscular reaction,
in the medical community it's widely known that that is an effect
and no-one here has stated tonight that it looked like he was
in pain of any sort.
JR, are you concerned at all that he was potentially still conscious
if there was heavy breathing when a paralytic was administered at 10:57?
-I'm sorry, we just, we just heard vivid descriptions of an
execution process that, that just by the words used,
seemed anything but smooth and I, I just don't understand on what
basis your, your statements draw any kind of credibility.
I mean, all the words used to describe this execution make it
sound like it didn't go smoothly.
So, I don't know about the governor, but are you standing here listening to this description,
troubled at all by what we were just told tonight?
Again, I've told you, the governor is always, he always follows up on
what happens but look, it's again,
according to the medical community, this is not an unusual thing.
So, would you like to come up here and testify to it?
I'm answering your question to the best of my ability.
All right, thank you.
We can tell you that for now, this process,
upon which the State of Arkansas embarked a few months ago,
to execute eight inmates over the course of two weeks, is now over,
and the final count stands at four men executed, four men's lives spared
at least for now, and certainly into the foreseeable future, as the
State of Arkansas wrestles with how to move forward with
capital punishment in the state.
Kenneth Williams was the fourth inmate out of eight whose scheduled
executions were carried out. Now the ACLU are requesting an investigation
into whether Williams was tortured by the state before he was killed,
questioning the state's, quote,
"rush to use up its supply of Midazolam before it expired."
Good morning to you, everyone. I did want to reflect, for a moment,
about the last two weeks.
Uh, that after decades of waiting, the families of the victims were
finally provided the justice that they were promised,
and they also saw that our system of laws have meaning.
And that last part is important as well.
What exactly happened with Kenneth Williams' execution last night?
Do you stand by your spokesman's statement that these executions were
-I went through what happened last night, with
Director Kelley. This ten seconds of...
..movement on his part, uh,
was what was described as coughing without noise.
The director told you he was coughing without noise?
That's in direct contrast to what the media witnesses have described.
Are you saying those witnesses were wrong?
Uh, you, whenever... I've been a lawyer a long time and if you have
five witnesses, uh, you're going to have five different descriptions.
Director Kelley was the closest one to observe it and that's what she
relayed to me, and that's what I accept.
When would you feel comfortable having the state carry out executions again?
You know, I really don't even want to think about it right now,
But you know, if the Attorney General sends over names, we will start
the process over again, in terms of dates, in terms of access to drugs.
There's a number of others that, uh,
are still waiting for justice and the verdicts of the jury have not
been carried out. So, we will do that responsibility when it comes.
All right, thank you very much.
-Thanks for your patience.
-Thank you so much for seeing us.
-That's very kind of you. It was very nice to meet you and
I hear you're running for re-election, is that right?
-I am, I am.
-Do you feel as though this experience will help with that?
You know, er...
All right, lovely to meet you.
Take care, thank you very much.
A documentary series about the unprecedented 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, the family of murdered teenager John Melbourne Jr are fighting for the execution of death row inmate Jason McGehee to go ahead. McGehee's lawyers argue that his sentence is unjust, as he is only one out of a group of teenagers responsible for the murder. In fact, the person who actually took John's life is eligible for parole in 2025.
We also meet Kayla Greenwood, whose father Michael was murdered by death row inmate Kenneth Williams in a road traffic collision after he escaped from prison. In an extraordinary act of forgiveness, Kayla is desperate to reconnect the killer with the daughter, Jasmine, he hasn't seen for 17 years.