LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ governor said Friday that he sees no reason for anything beyond a routine review of the state’s execution procedures after a condemned inmate lurched and convulsed 20 times during a lethal injection that involved a controversial sedative.
Attorneys for Kenneth Williams called for a full investigation after Williams became the fourth convicted killer executed in Arkansas in eight days as the state sought to carry out as many lethal injections as possible before its supply of midazolam expires.
“I think it’s totally unjustified,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters when asked about the possibility of an independent probe. “You don’t call for an independent investigation unless there’s some reason for it. Last night, one of the goals was there not be any indications of pain by the inmate, and that’s what I believe is the case.”
A federal judge on Friday granted a request from Williams’ attorneys to preserve evidence from the dead inmate’s body, ordering the state to collect blood and tissue samples as well as request an autopsy from the state medical examiner.
Hutchinson said Williams’ execution will be reviewed by the Department of Correction, which is typical any time an inmate is put to death. He said a written report would not be issued.
The governor said he does not think Arkansas needs to change its execution protocol, citing court rulings that have upheld the use of midazolam, which has also been used in flawed executions in other states. But he has not ordered prison officials to find a replacement for Arkansas’ supply of the drug, which expires Sunday.
An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution said that about three minutes in, Williams’ body jerked 15 times in quick succession, lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest. Then the rate slowed for a final five movements.
Hutchinson said Arkansas Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley described Williams’ movement as “coughing without…