(9/6/18) The cases of two Arkansas death row inmates, who were spared from execution last year, went before the state’s highest court Thursday.
Attorneys for Bruce Ward and Jack Greene asked the supreme court to strike down a law that allows the director of the Arkansas Department of Correction to decide if they are mentally competent to be executed.
Ward was one of the eight inmates to be executed last April, while Greene’s execution was set for last November. Both were halted so the justices could hear their cases.
“Ward’s record reflects profound mental illness from the beginning of his case, indeed, his life,” said attorney Joseph Perkovich.
“Jack Greene believes his execution is the culmination of an ongoing conspiracy between the ADC and my office to cripple, maim, torture and silence him,” said attorney John Williams.
Perkovich and Williams claimed their clients cannot understand their death sentences and believe ADC Director Wendy Kelley should not be able to determine whether they are mentally fit for execution.
“The director cannot be considered a neutral decision maker in this context, when she is both a party and a judge,” Williams said.
The state’s attorneys argued Director Kelley can be impartial and focused on what the convicted killers did to land them on death row decades ago.
“Bruce Ward strangled 18-year-old Rebecca Doss to death on the bathroom floor of the convenience store where she worked,” said Dylan Jacobs, an assistant solicitor general.
“As this court previously concluded in 1994, butchery and torture does not even come close to describing the horror that he [Greene] inflicted on his victim Sidney Burnett,” said Kathryn Henry, an assistant attorney general. “It would not be cruel and unusual for his execution to be carried out at this point.”
There are no executions scheduled at this time.
Arkansas lacks two of the three drugs needed for the lethal injection procedure.
ADC has said its search for new drugs is on hold until lawmakers modify state law to protect the identity of the manufacturers.