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Apr 28, 7:26 PM EDT

The Latest: Judge orders evidence preserved from execution

AP Photo
AP Photo/Kelly P. Kissel

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The Latest on the final execution in Arkansas before the state's supply of a lethal injection drug expires at the end of the month (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

A federal judge has granted a request from attorneys to preserve evidence from the body of an inmate who lurched and convulsed on the gurney during his Thursday night execution.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ordered the Department of Correction on Friday to request the state medical examiner collect blood and tissue samples from the body of Kenneth Williams, who was put to death late Thursday. Baker also ordered the department request the medical examiner conduct an autopsy.

Baker ordered the blood and tissue samples preserved until a further order from her court.

Attorneys are seeking a full investigation of Williams' execution, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state will conduct only a routine review that's done after every lethal injection.

Arkansas put four inmates to death this month. Four other prisoners who were set for execution received stays.

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4 p.m.

Arkansas is opposing a request from attorneys to preserve evidence from Thursday night's execution of an inmate who lurched and convulsed on the gurney.

The attorney general's office says Kenneth Williams' "coughing and muscle spasms" were associated with the use of midazolam, which is the first drug in Arkansas' lethal injection protocol. The court filing says those movements "are not indicative of any degree of pain or suffering."

Attorneys representing several death row inmates have asked a federal judge to preserve evidence from Williams' execution and to order a blood draw from his body before 8 p.m. Friday.

The state's response also says: "The drugs worked as intended and planned."

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2 p.m.

Attorneys representing several death row inmates are asking a federal judge to force Arkansas to preserve evidence from the execution of a prisoner who lurched and convulsed on the gurney.

The attorneys want Arkansas to preserve all physical evidence from the body of Kenneth Williams, who was executed late Thursday.

The court filing seeks a blood draw from Williams' body before 8 p.m. Friday.

Attorneys are seeking a full investigation of Williams' execution, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state will conduct only a routine review that's done after every lethal injection.

Arkansas put four inmates to death this month. Four other prisoners who were set for execution received stays.

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12:20 p.m.

A lethal injection expert and law professor says Arkansas' explanation for an inmate who appeared to convulse during a lethal injection doesn't make sense.

Kenneth Williams was the fourth Arkansas inmate executed in eight days. Witnesses say he lurched and convulsed 20 times while being put to death.

Deborah Denno of Fordham University says the accelerated schedule adopted by Arkansas to put to death eight inmates in 11 days increased the risk of problems. She says state officials typically describe execution irregularities as minor or normal but that it was hard to accept Arkansas' account.

Denno says Williams' execution along with a lawsuit brought by one of the drug suppliers will result in drug companies taking more steps to prevent their products from being sold to the state.

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11:20 a.m.

The Arkansas governor says he sees no reason for anything beyond a routine review of execution procedures after an inmate lurched and convulsed 20 times during a lethal injection.

Asa Hutchinson told reporters Friday that the execution of Kenneth Williams will be reviewed by the Department of Correction. That's typical anytime an inmate is put to death.

Williams' attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union have called for a full investigation.

Hutchinson says the use of the sedative midazolam has been upheld by courts. He says he doesn't think Arkansas needs to change its lethal-injection protocol.

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6:25 a.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union says Arkansas may have subjected a death row inmate to cruel and unusual punishment in its rush to use a lethal injection drug before it expires, following reports that the man convulsed and lurched during his execution.

Rita Sklar, the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, has called for an investigation into witness accounts of Kenneth Williams' execution to "determine whether the state tortured" him.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed Williams' execution Thursday says his body jerked 15 times in quick succession about three minutes into the process. He lurched violently against the leather chest restraint, then the rate slowed for a final five movements.

Sklar said in a statement Friday that Gov. Asa Hutchinson "ignored the dangers" to beat the Sunday expiration date of the state's supply of midazolam.

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3 a.m.

The last of four Arkansas executions over an eight-day period has prompted calls for investigations after the inmate lurched and convulsed while strapped to the gurney.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed Kenneth Williams' execution Thursday said that about three minutes into the lethal injection, his body jerked 15 times in quick succession. He lurched violently against the leather chest restraint, then the rate slowed for a final five movements.

One of Williams' attorneys called the execution "horrifying." A spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson called it "an involuntary muscular reaction."

The compressed lethal injection timeline could attract more scrutiny after Williams' death. Arkansas sought to carry out as many lethal injections as possible before one of its drugs expires Sunday. It executed four prisoners, while four others received court stays.

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