LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Supreme Court and a federal judge Wednesday denied motions to stay the execution of Kenneth Williams, who is scheduled to be put to death Thursday night.
Also Wednesday, the European Union urged Gov. Asa Hutchinson to call off Williams’ execution.
Without comment, the state Supreme Court denied a motion by Williams’ attorneys that argued the jury at his trial failed to consider mitigating evidence including childhood domestic abuse and limited intellectual function.
U.S. District Judge Jodi Dennis denied a motion by Williams’ attorneys that argued he is intellectually disabled and therefore his death sentence is illegal. The judge said the attorneys did not establish probable cause to halt the execution.
Williams, 38, was serving a life sentence for the 1998 killing of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd when he escaped from the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County in 1999.
He shot and killed Cecil Boren, 57, at Boren’s nearby home, stole Boren’s truck and was captured after a high-speed chase in Missouri during which he crashed into a vehicle and killed the driver, Michael Greenwood, 24, of Springfield, Mo.
Williams is scheduled to die for Boren’s killing. He also is serving three sentences of life without parole, one for aggravated robbery and two for capital murder.
Hutchinson initially scheduled eight executions over an 11-day span this month, seeking to make use of a key drug before it expires at the end of April. Four of the executions have been stayed by courts, but the state did execute Ledell Lee last week and Jack Harold Jones and Marcel Williams on Monday.
David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, said Wednesday in a letter to Hutchinson the European Union opposes capital punishment and urges him to commute Williams’ sentence.
O’Sullivan said evidence that Williams may be intellectually disabled should be heard and that the compressed execution schedule and the way the state acquired its executions drugs are concerns.
“This unprecedented pace of carrying out those sentences has been justified by the urge to use some of the execution drugs before their expiry date,” O’Sullivan said in the letter. “We also note with concern that other drugs used for executions were reportedly acquired by circumventing the policies of the company who sold them. Proceeding with Mr. Williams’ execution would therefore be a very concerning precedent.”