In Alabama, Robert Melson, who was sentenced to death in 1994 for killing three people, was executed last night, the state’s second execution in two weeks. Melson had been granted a temporary stay last week, but an order signed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas lifted the stay on Tuesday. Melson’s challenge argued that the state’s three-drug lethal injection cocktail “has failed to work properly.” Four other death row inmates have filed appeals based on the same argument.
Two weeks ago, 75-year-old Tommy Arthur was executed in Alabama. Arthur, who had spent 34 years on death row, had had seven execution dates set before finally being put to death on May 26th for a 1982 murder-for-hire.
Also in Alabama, Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the “Fair Justice Act,” a bill that would create “serious problems” that would increase the “risk of executing an innocent person,” according to the president of the American Bar Association. AL.com reports that the state says the bill will require death row inmates to exercise their two appeals concurrently instead of consecutively, with appellate teams working simultaneously on behalf of the inmate.
In Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports that the state released a new lethal drug protocol last week that replaces its three drug cocktail with a single drug, limits the authority of the prison director to make changes in the protocol during the execution, and removes a clause that says death penalty attorneys can supply their own execution drugs for their clients.
In Ohio, a bill that would prevent a capital defendant who is determined to have been mentally ill at the time of the crime from being charged with the death penalty is under fire from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association. The Columbus Post Dispatch reports that HB 81, sponsored by two Republican lawmakers, would also allow mentally ill death row inmates to apply for resentencing. Co-sponsor Bill Seitz says the bill is in response to a recommendation by a Supreme Court joint task force. Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association Executive Director John Murphy told the paper, “”If this were enacted, I think it would in effect repeal the death penalty,”