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Arkansas Carries Out Nation's First Double Execution Since 2000

Jacob Kauffman
Andrew Demillo of the Associated Press (L) and Tracy Whitaker of The Searcy Daily Citizen (R)

10:39 Update:

An ADC spokesman says Marcel Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. The procedure began at 10:16. 

A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction declared that Jack Jones was executed Monday night by lethal injection. His execution began at 7:06 p.m. and he was declared dead at 7:20 p.m.

"He was covered in a sheet with his arms extended," said media witness, Andrew DeMillo, from the Associated Press. DeMillo noted Jones' lips continued moving for several minutes after the execution began though witnesses were not able to hear sound from the execution chamber.

"[His] chest was rising intermittently during this time and continued doing this until about 7:13," he said. 

Jones was convicted of the 1995 killing Mary Phillips in White County. He raped, strangled, and killed her, and beat her 11-year-old daughter, Lacey, during his robbery of her accounting office.

Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR
Lacey Phillips Silk, center, who survived the assault by Jack Jones, is surrounded by her family as she reacts to Monday night's execution.

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to Jones’s execution earlier in the evening that argued the lethal injection drug midazolam could prove a cruel and unusual punishment because of his medical condition as a diabetic and an amputee. He argued the drug, one of three used in the state’s lethal injection protocol, would be ineffective in concert with Jones’s medication regime.

A separate filing on Sunday, rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court, argued Jones should be re-sentenced because of a discrepancy in how the jury filed out their findings on paperwork in his case.  

If successful, Monday will be the nation’s first double execution sentence in 17 years. Marcel Williams is scheduled to be executed at 8p.m. A court stay temporarily halted his execution Monday night. 

Tracy Whitaker of The Searcy Daily Citizen, DeMillo, and David Lippman of THV11 witnessed the execution.

ADC spokesman Solomon Graves read a transcript of Jones' final statement to the media.

“I just want to let the James family and Lacey know how sorry I am. I can’t believe I did something to her. I tried to be respectful from the time I took and become a better person. I hope I did better. I hope over time, you could learn who I really am, and I am not a monster. There was a reason why those things happened that day. I am so sorry Lacey, try to understand I love you like my child.”

Family of Mary Phillips spoke to the media after witnessing the execution. Her daughter, Lacey Phillips Silk, thanked Governor Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. She said their efforts will, “never be forgotten.” She said Jones' death, “gave our family some justice.”

When asked about his final statement directed partly at her, she responded simply, “[I'm] glad that part of my life, that chapter is closed.”

Phillps' son, Jessie James, spoke as well and praised the efforts of law enforcement in their home, White County. He said while today is about the sentences of the death row inmates, he is thinking of his mother.

The victim's father, James Phillips, said the legal process took too long. “It don’t take 22 years to get something done. Get it done right, and people don’t help to live like this or think about this for 20-something years," he said. 

Credit Bobby Ampezzan / Arkansas Public Media
Arkansas Public Media
Citizens discuss the death penalty during a vigil outside the Governor's Mansion on Monday evening.

Following the execution of Jack Jones, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a statement:

"This evening the rule of law was upheld when the sentence of the jury for Jack Jones was carried out after 20 years of review. The victim’s family has waited patiently for justice during that time. The jury sentenced Jack Jones to death, and his sentence was upheld by judges and reviewed thoroughly in courts of appeal at each level. 

“A governor never asks for this responsibility, but I accept it as part of the solemn pledge I made to uphold the law. Jack Jones expressed his willingness to proceed today, and we hope this will help bring closure to the Phillips family."

The governor's statement following the execution of Marcel Williams: 

“After more than 20 years, justice has prevailed for the family of Stacey Errickson. I reviewed this case thoroughly and determined that clemency should not be granted. I appreciate the patience and long-suffering of the Errickson family through this ordeal. This is a serious and reflective time in our state and it is important for the Errickson family and all Arkansans to know that in this case our laws ended in justice.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the name of The Searcy Daily Citizen.
This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

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