Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office announced today a Nov. 9 execution date for Jack Gordon Greene.
Greene was convicted of the 1992 Johnson County murder of Sidney Burnett, a retired preacher, who was beaten with a can of hominy, stabbed, shot and mutilated.
The announcement follows Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s public letter to Hutchinson requesting the execution be set.
It is likely to be followed by court efforts to stop the execution. Greene’s lawyer says he’s mentally ill.
“Capital punishment should not be used on vulnerable people like the severely mentally ill,” said John C. Williams, Assistant Federal Defender, Federal Public Defender Office, in a previous statement.
More executions were allowed by the Arkansas Department of Correction’s recent acquisition of a fresh supply of the controversial sedative drug midazolam, one of three used in Arkansas executions. According to documents from ADC, Arkansas paid $250 in cash and bought the midazolam on August 4.
Arkansas received national attention in April for planning eight executions over a 10-day period in April to get the killing done before a supply a midazolam expired. Death penalty opponents say midazolam is ineffective to ensure that pain does not occur during an execution. Problems in a number of executions have prompted some states to move away from its use.
Wendy Kelley, ADC Director, testified before the eight scheduled executions that it would be extremely difficult to acquire more drugs in the future. But four months later, she found a new supply.
“It was stated that it would be difficult but not impossible [to acquire the drugs],” said J.R. Davis, spokesperson for the governor.
In April, only four of the eight executions were carried out. The executions of Bruce Ward, Don Davis, Jason McGehee, and Stacey Johnson were all stalled for reasons apart from drugs.
UPDATE (10:34 a.m.): Scott Braden, another Assistant Federal Defender in Arkansas, added more in a statement sent to the press on the setting of the execution.
“In the coming weeks, it’s imperative that the appropriate decision makers consider whether the State should execute a man in such a feeble mental state. The U.S. Supreme Court has been clear that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of someone who cannot rationally comprehend his execution. Two-and-a-half decades of solitary confinement—piled on top of Mr. Greene’s existing mental fragility—call the legality of Mr. Greene’s execution into serious doubt.”