LITTLE ROCK, AR (WMC) - The Arkansas Supreme Court stopped the scheduled executions of two inmates Monday night.
Justices granted the stays Monday afternoon for Don Davis and Bruce Ward. The inmates wanted stays of execution while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments in that case April 24.
Courts stopped the scheduled executions, but Arkansas continues pushing back.
Arkansas' attorney general said she will seek an "immediate review" of the court decision, though several other legal obstacles remain for the state to carry out its plan.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did not say where she would seek a review, but she could ask either the Arkansas Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court for one.
She made her plans known in a status update filed Monday with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Rutledge said the state court's ruling was based "on a misinterpretation of federal law."
Preparations continue at the death chamber inside Cummins Prison in rural Lincoln County, Arkansas. That's where the first two of as many as eight prisoners are scheduled for execution before the end of April.
Rutledge said she will not appeal the execution stay for Ward because he has a separate legal challenge over his mental health, but she said she has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate a stay issued for Davis, who is scheduled to be executed Monday night. Currently, the Arkansas Supreme Court stay remains in place for Davis, who is sentenced to die for the death of a woman shot at her home during a robbery.
"It is unprecedented that a state is trying to execute this many people in this short a period time," attorney Jeff Rosenzweig said.
Lawyers for the inmates scheduled for execution called the situation "assembly line killing."
The eight executions are scheduled right before a key sedative used in lethal injections expires April 30. However, the state's governor said that has nothing to do with why the executions were scheduled to happen before the end of the month.
"It's simply doing our duty. It's not a race against anything," Governor Asa Hutchinson said.
If any of these executions are carried out, they would mark the first executions in Arkansas in 12 years.
"It's been a 25-year nightmare for the victims that have had to deal with this, and now it's time for justice to be carried out," Hutchinson said.