State drug dealing at issue as executions near | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 14, 2017

State drug dealing at issue as executions near

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 7:27 AM

click to enlarge FEW WORDS: Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley wouldn't discuss sources of drugs to be used in the state killings that begin Monday. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • FEW WORDS: Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley wouldn't discuss sources of drugs to be used in the state killings that begin Monday.

An 11th-hour addition to the ongoing federal court hearing aimed at stopping seven executions scheduled over a 240-hour period beginning at 7 p.m. Monday was an intervention by two drug companies objecting to use of drugs they make.

Fresenius Kabi, maker of potassium chloride, the drug that stops the heart, and West-Ward, maker of the controversial sedative midazolam, said redacted labels of drugs the state will use suggest they are the makers of the drugs. They supply them only for life-saving purposes and say their apparent use by Arkansas violates terms of their supply chain agreements.

A joint petition, accepted by federal Judge Kristine Baker for review, said the drug companies wanted to "share with the Court the public-health risks of diverting this critical medicine from advancing human health and quality of life to ending human life." They object to use of their drugs in executions.

Correction Department Director Wendy Kelley was asked about the claim after court ended late last night. She wasn't happy with the line of questioning. She had testified drugs had been "donated" to the state. Mitch McCoy of KARK captured the questioning on video, before Kelley refused to talk further and left. She objected to a statement that the source was "unverified," saying it came from a "supplier." She wouldn't reveal the supplier. "I am not telling you....I'm not answering any more questions."

Reporters persisted with questions. Kelley remained mute.

Opinion: If the state of Arkansas must engage in illicit, secret drug dealing to kill people, something is wrong with the process.

Judge Baker is expected to rule today.

A rally is scheduled at the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. by the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. They'll present a petition signed by more than 154,000 asking the governor to stop the executions. He's made it clear he won't. Participants include the Catholic bishop of Arkansas, the director of the ACLU of Arkansas, a relative of a murder victim and Damien Echols, the former Death Row inmate exonerated in the West Memphis Three case.

If the state killings do proceed, the coalition has scheduled vigils around the state Monday night, including near the prison unit where inmates are to be killed by the state.

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