Arkansas Supreme Court stays execution of Bruce Ward | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 14, 2017

Arkansas Supreme Court stays execution of Bruce Ward

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 6:00 PM

click to enlarge BRUCE WARD
  • BRUCE WARD
The Arkansas Supreme Court today stayed the execution of Bruce Ward.

It did so without explanation, but his attorneys had requested a stay based on mental disability. They said under court precedent he was incompetent to be executed.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has granted Inmate Bruce Ward’s request for a stay of his execution.

The state had objected to the request. Said a prepared statement from the office of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:

"Bruce Ward was convicted of capital murder in 1990 and the State Supreme Court has previously upheld his conviction. The Court granted a stay of Ward's scheduled execution today but offered no reason for doing so. Attorney General Rutledge is evaluating options on how to proceed."
Ward's attorney, Scott Braden, an assistant federal public defender, issued this statement:

“We are grateful that the Arkansas Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution for Bruce Ward so that they may consider the serious questions presented about his sanity. He deserves a day in court for that, but in Arkansas the rules do not permit that. Instead, they give the power to director of the department of corrections to decide whether the department can execute someone or not. That is both unfair and unconstitutional.

“The United States Supreme Court requires that a death row prisoner be competent for execution, that is, have a rational understanding of the punishment he is about to suffer and the reason why he is to suffer it. (Ford v. Wainwright and Panetti v. Quarterman). Mr. Ward’s severe and life long schizophrenia and delusions, such as seeing demon dogs at the foot of his bed, have left him incompetent for execution under the constitutional standard: he has no rational understanding of the punishment he is slated to suffer or the reason why he is to suffer it. In fact, he does not believe he will ever be executed and believes he will walk out of prison a free man to great acclaim and riches. His nearly three decades in solitary confinement have only worsened his severe mental illness.”
Ward, 61, was sentenced to die in Pulaski County in 1990. He's been described as having severe schizophrenia and having delusions. His lawsuit seeking to stop the execution quoted medical authorities as saying his prolonged incarceration in isolation had contributed to his condition.

Ward was convicted of the 1989 slaying of Rebecca Doss, 18, a convenience store clerk working on overnight shift. A passing police officer who could not see a clerk inside stopped to check the store and stopped Ward after seeing him walk away from restrooms.

His request for a stay was denied in circuit court and I reported this morning that the Supreme Court had rejected the record of the case and granted him an emergency review. Justice Rhonda Wood at that time wouldn't have granted a stay.


The stay reduces the number facing execution between April 17 and 27 to six, with only Don Davis facing execution on Monday.

The Supreme Court order was one sentence, saying an emergency stay was granted. It was unsigned by justices. There was no mention of any dissent the seven-member court.

ALSO TODAY: The Correction Department amended its rules for press coverage of the execution to allow reporters to bring laptop computers with a mobile hot spot to communicate outside, but no telephones. Only two telephones will be available in the media center for what is expected to be a good-sized crowd of reporters from Arkansas and around the world.

We still await word from federal court, where Judge Kristine Baker and her staff were working into the night on a separate case to stop all the executions. Eight had been scheduled, but federal Judge Price Marshall temporarily delayed one to an unknown time in the case of Jason McGehee, who was recommended for clemency by the state Parole Board. That recommendation triggered a statutory 30-day review period that couldn't have been completed before he was executed had the judge not issued a stay.

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Most Viewed

  • Dear Little Rock,

    This is not a love letter, Little Rock, though we do love you. This is an intervention.
  • The Monday Democrat-Gazette was slimmer this morning

    Did your Monday morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette include a business section?
  • Criticism arises on Hutchinson appointee to dental board

    Criticism has arisen of Gov. Asa Hutchinson for not taking a Dental Association recommendation for a dental regulatory board appointment and appointing instead someone with a record of dental practice violations in the early 1990s.
  • Hog football: The lawyers take over

    If you believe social media, it's all over but the post-season buyout for Razorback football coach Bret Bielema. That means, in turn, that the issue of what the coach's contract buyout is worth is not just an academic question.
  • Sabin raises $100,000 for mayor's race

    Michael Cook, a political consultant, has issued a news release saying state Rep. Warwick Sabin has raised $100,000 for his race for Little Rock mayor against incumbent Mayor Mark Stodola.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The Monday Democrat-Gazette was slimmer this morning

    • Mountaingirl, your dad did a lot more good in his lifetime than the little bit…

    • on October 23, 2017
  • Re: You need this T-shirt

    • WELCOME TO THE GREAT BROTHERHOOD OF KINGDOM OF RICHES AND WEALTH {THE ILLUMINATI ELITE] THIS…

    • on October 23, 2017
  • Re: Dear Little Rock,

    • I dont love LR but good article.

    • on October 23, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation