Beebe: Arkansas Executions Will Proceed

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Beebe said the state will begin executing death-row inmates by lethal injection in light of a failed U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the death penalty.

The governor said Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will offer a few changes to the protocol surrounding Arkansas executions, and he expects to begin receiving death warrants from McDaniel's office within the next 30 days for inmates who have exhausted their court appeals.

Beebe said he listened to a group that had asked him to abolish the death penalty, but he felt legally bound as the state's top executive to carry out capital punishment as prescribed by the courts.

Death-row inmates Don William Davis and Jack Harold Jones, Jr. both joined a lawsuit by death-row inmate Terrick Nooner mirroring a complaint that justices examined from two condemned prisoners in Kentucky.  Federal court stays, put in place as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed the Kentucky case, continue to block the execution of the three in Arkansas.

But Beebe said he did not know how many death row inmates would be immediately in line for execution.  In all, 40 men are on death row at the state's Varner unit.

Arkansas has executed 27 death-row inmates since the Supreme Court allowed states to resume executions in 1976.  The state's last execution took place in 2005, when officials executed condemned killer Eric Nance.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)