Arkansas wrapped up an accelerated executions schedule with a lethal injection that left the condemned inmate lurching and convulsing before he died, prompting calls for investigations of the state’s efforts to put multiple inmates to death on a compressed timeline, says the Associated Press. Kenneth Williams on Thursday became the fourth convicted killer executed in Arkansas in eight days as the state sought to carry out as many lethal injections as possible before one of its drugs expires Sunday. An AP reporter who witnessed the execution said that about three minutes in, Williams’ body jerked 15 times in quick succession — lurching violently against the leather restraint across his chest — then the rate slowed for a final five movements.
A spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the movements “an involuntary muscular reaction” that he said was a widely known effect of the surgical sedative midazolam. Williams’ attorneys called witness accounts “horrifying” and demanding an investigation into the “problematic execution.” Williams was sentenced to death for killing a former deputy warden, Cecil Boren, after he escaped from prison in 1999. He had been serving a life term for the death of a college cheerleader. Williams read a statement before the execution, apologizing to the families he “senselessly wronged and deprived of their loved ones.” He also spoke in tongues, the unintelligible but language-like speech used in some religions. His prayer faded off as the midazolam took effect. He said, “The words that I speak will forever be, will forever …” before he fell silent.