Federal Court in Little Rock Blocks McGehee Execution

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KARK) - A federal judge in Little Rock has ruled that all but one of eight executions scheduled in Arkansas this month can proceed as planned.

According to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. (Eastern District of Arkansas) issued a ruling Thursday blocking the execution of Jason McGehee alongside Kenneth Williams April 27.

Judge Marshall cited Arkansas code in his order that says if the Arkansas Parole Board recommends clemency, the inmate is entitled to a 30-day public comment period.

Since the board issued its recommendation to Gov. Asa Hutchinson Wednesday, one day before the judge's decision, the 30-day period surpasses McGehee's execution date.

At this point, his execution could still take place April 27 only if Rutledge's office appeals Judge Marshall's injunction and a higher court rules in favor of the attorney general.

There's no word yet from Rutledge's office regarding an appeal.

“The victims’ families have waited far too long to see justice for their loved ones, and today’s decision from Judge Marshall allows all but one of the scheduled executions to move forward. Attorney General Rutledge will respond to any and all challenges that might occur between now and the executions as the prisoners continue to use all available means to delay their lawful sentences,” said Rutledge in a statement.

The governor set dates for four double executions with the first to come April 17.

According to Arkansas Department of Correction records, McGehee was sentenced to death in 1998 after being convicted of the murder-kidnapping of 15-year-old John Melbourne, Jr. in Boone County.

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