THV11’s Craig O’Neill tracked down former Governor Beebe to get his take on the Hutchinson administration’s aggressive effort to execute eight men on death row, men who were also on death row during Beebe’s tenure as governor (Beebe himself also set death warrants for all eight, but they were stayed by the courts).
When you are the person that has to say this person lives or this person dies, you’re the last stroke of the pen that determines life. It is a daunting and oppressive and awful — absolutely awful — responsibility. So any governor that has to go through that I’m sure feels the same way.
How did we get here. A combination of things. Even though I set eight death warrants or execution dates, all were stayed by the courts for various reasons. We’d been following that since about 2005. In all eight of those cases where I had to set a death warrant — to satisfy myself, I read the entire transcript of every trial of those eight to satisfy myself. And in all eight, I came away more convinced than ever of, number one, the fairness of the trial based upon the paper and on the guilt of the inmate based upon the total transcripts. But it didn’t lighten the burden any.
Beebe was asked whether he spoken with Governor Hutchinson about the cases.
I’m not going to talk about whether he and I have talked about that. Any conversations he and I may have had about any of this would be private, as I’m sure you would understand. I hope the people would understand that. And I would honor any confidentiality in that regard. But knowing Asa Hutchinson — and knowing how virtually every governor I have ever known, and certainly from my own experience, knowing how they would feel — it’s got to be a very tough time. A very emotionally draining tough time for a governor. When you compress it as this is compressed, I can’t imagine how difficult that would be.