The Arkansas Supreme Court in brief orders today denied petitions by Kenneth Williams for a stay in his scheduled execution at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Williams had asked for an opportunity to present mitigating testimony the jury didn’t hear in sentencing him to death and to offer testimony about his mental capacity, which his lawyers argued had not been fully explored in earlier proceedings. The two orders said simply that the requests were denied. His petition had earlier been denied in Lincoln County Circuit Court.
That leaves Williams with last-minute options in federal court, where the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court to date have ruled in favor of continuing executions. Eight had been scheduled between April 17 and tomorrow so as to kill as many people as possible with drug supplies before they expired at the end of this month. (The state has admitted obtaining the drugs by subterfuge, apparently from non-traditional sources in some cases.)
The Arkansas Supreme Court has stayed three of the eight scheduled executions — one, Stacey Johnson, for further DNA testing, and two, Don Davis and Bruce Ward, for potential evaluations of sanity. A federal court stayed another execution, that of Jason McGehee, for a time-rushed conflict with state law on clemency procedure. He’s been recommended for clemency by the Parole Board.
Williams was convicted of capital murder in 2000 for the 1999 slaying of Cecil Boren, a state Correction Department employee who lived near the prison. Williams escaped prison in a hog slop tank truck while serving a life sentence for capital murder in the slaying of a UAPB student and then robbed and killed Boren. He was caught after a long chase of his stolen vehicle that led to a wreck in Missouri which the driver of a delivery truck was killed.
Though Williams’ latest attorneys argued that he’d never been given a chance in court to present testimony about his intellectual capacity, the state argued otherwise. It also noted his lengthy and “sophisticated and theologically literate” presentation before the state Parole Board at a clemency hearing. It also presented prison records about his performance of “extremely complex tasks.” He has spoken of working on an autobiography and doing taxes, the state said. He’s also represented himself in a court paternity action. He is “clearly not a person with mental retardation,” the state argued.
ALSO: The Springfield News-Leader reports that Kayla Greenwood, the daughter of Michael Greenwood, the man killed in the Missouri wreck, had arranged with her mother and stepfather to pay for Williams’ daughter, whom he’d never met, and a grandchild to fly from Washington to Arkansas to meet with Williams before his execution.
Kayla, along with her brothers, her mom and stepfather are driving to Little Rock on Wednesday morning to pick up Jasmine and drive her to the prison.
“We both cried. We had a lot to talk about and a lot to relate to,” Kayla Greenwood said. “We are just excited for today and being able to be there for each other.”
…Kayla Greenwood said she emailed a message to Williams through his attorney.
“I told him we forgive him and where I stood on it,” Kayla siad. “(Jasmine) said that when the warden read the email to him, he broke out in tears.
“When he found out that we are bringing his daughter and granddaughter to see him and that my mom and dad bought the tickets, he was crying to the attorney,” Kayla said. “He was sad he couldn’t talk to us.”
Kayla said there isn’t enough time for her and family to be approved for a prison visit. They plan to wait outside while Jasmine and her daughter go into the prison.
“We wanted that time for him and his daughter and granddaughter,” Kayla said just before hitting the road Wednesday morning. “We are excited to come, as if it was happening for us.”
ALSO: Jessie Turnure of KARK is Tweeting about her interview with Williams.
— Jessi Turnure (@JessiTurnure) April 26, 2017