Arkansas judge blocks state from using lethal drug on death row inmates

Arkansas judge blocks state from using lethal drug on death row inmates

Arkansas is one of a handful of states where the death penalty is legal, yet a judge ruled Friday night that the state cannot use a lethal drug on seven inmates the state plans to execute by the end of the month, the Associated Press reported. 

On Friday night, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary order to prevent the state of Arkansas from using its supply of vecuronium bromide to execute prisoners. 

Typically, the drug is used in addition to anesthesia to relax a patient's muscles during surgery or mechanical ventilation, which helps patients breathe. 

McKesson, the medical supply company that produces the drug, did not know that the state was going to use the drug for anything other than its intended medical purpose, the Associated Press noted. McKesson hoped to give Arkansas a refund for the drug or pursue legal action to get the drug back. Two other pharmaceutical companies have asked a judge to forbid Arkansas from using their drugs to execute inmates. 

Protesters flocked to the Arkansas Capitol building on Friday to rally against the death penalty. Twitter users chimed in using the hashtag #ARKillingSpree. 

Actor Johnny Depp and Damien Echols, a man who was an Arkansas inmate for almost 18 years and was on death row before he was freed in 2011, joined the protesters.  

"Arkansas almost put an innocent man to death," Depp told the protestors, according to a tweet from Erika Ferrando, a reporter for local station THV11. "I don't believe that possibility should ever happen again."  

Though it appears that Arkansas won't be able to follow through with the executions that were scheduled on Monday, only time will tell whether another drug company will allow the state to use its drugs to execute inmates.