Arkansas carried out death sentences for two inmates through lethal injection on Monday evening — the country’s first double execution in nearly 17 years.
Convicted murderers Jack Jones, 52, and Marcel Williams, 46, were executed just hours apart as Arkansas rushes to use its supply of a key lethal injection drug before it expires at the end of the month.
Jones was executed for the rape and murder of a bookkeeper in 1995 and was pronounce dead at 7:20 p.m. local time. Williams was executed about three hours later for the 1994 murder of a young mother.
It’s the first time a state has executed two people on the same day since Texas killed two inmates in August 2000.
Williams’ attorneys briefly stalled his execution after they raised concerns about how the prior execution was carried out.
They claimed Jones “was moving his lips and gulping for air” — which state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge denied. A judge issued a stay, then lifted it about an hour later, and Williams was executed. He was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m.
In the emergency filing, Williams’ attorneys claimed that prison officials spent 45 minutes attempting to place an IV line in Jones’ neck before opting to place it elsewhere. The attorneys, according to the filing, argued that Williams, who was obese, could face a “torturous” and “inhumane” death because of his weight.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson initially scheduled four double executions over 11 days in April, but a slew of procedural hurdles forced the state to change course.
Until last week, the state hadn’t conducted an execution since 2005.
The state carried out one execution last week, and it has one planned for Thursday. Four others have been blocked by courts.
Arkansas’ supply of midazolam, one of three drugs used in combination for lethal injections, expires on April 30, and the state said it has no source for additional doses.
ABC News’ Darren Reynolds and The Associated Press contributed to this report.