Lawyers for two Arkansas inmates condemned to die tomorrow insist they are innocent, and one of them says advanced DNA techniques could show he didn’t kill a woman in 1993. Their strategy to win stays of execution differs from the first two inmates who faced the death chamber this week. They were spared Monday by arguing they should not be put to death because of mental health issues, the Associated Press reports. Arkansas officials are vowing to press ahead with tomorrow’s executions despite the setback to plans to resume capital punishment after a 12-year hiatus.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson originally set out an aggressive schedule of eight lethal injections in 11 days that would have marked the most inmates put to death by a state in such a short period since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The state set the compressed schedule because its supply of one lethal injection drug expires at the end of April. One inmate set to die, Stacey Johnson, says advanced DNA techniques could show that he didn’t kill Carol Heath, a 25-year-old mother of two, in 1993. The other inmate scheduled to be executed tomorrow, Ledell Lee, argued unsuccessfully yesterday in a Little Rock courtroom that he be given a chance to test blood and hair evidence that could prove he didn’t beat 26-year-old Debra Reese to death during a 1993 robbery.