Natural State News with Context
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fourth and Final Execution Expected Tonight

Corrections Department
Kenneth Williams

Updated at 7:45pm:  The state is holding off on the execution until it hears from the U.S. Supreme Court.  Kenneth Williams' death warrant expires at midnight.

A recent series of executions in Arkansas could conclude tonight if the state puts inmate Kenneth Williams to death.  He is currently scheduled for lethal injection at 7pm, and his attorneys are spending the day exploring last-minute legal options for a stay. 

By early afternoon, Williams had lost all claims to the state Supreme Court but still had a complaint pending in Circuit Court of Pulaski County claiming that he is at high risk for a painful death from the three-drug lethal injection cocktail due to sickle cell trait, Lupus and organic brain damage.  His supporters have also claimed that Williams has a low I.Q. (70) and should not be eligible for the death penalty.

A complaint filed in Circuit Court of Pulaski County claimed Williams' medical conditions put him at high risk for a painful death.

Williams was sentenced to death for killing Cecil Boren, a 57-year-old farmer he encountered after his escape from prison in 1999, where he was serving a life term for the murder a year earlier of Dominique "Nikki" Hurd.  Hurd was a 19-year-old cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff who was taking pictures with her boyfriend when they were approached by Williams.  Williams, who was 19 at the time, later confessed that he had been looking for someone to rob to raise rent money but was also curious about what it might feel like to kill someone.

Williams, who claims that he has had a religious awakening in prison, also wrote a 500 page letter to a newspaper claiming responsibility for the fatal shooting of Jerrell Jenkins, a 36-year-old Pine Bluff resident who was a father to 10 children and step-children.

Williams' fourth victim was Michael Greenwood, a 24-year-old Springfield resident who was killed in a traffic accident as Williams fled from recapture.  Greenwood's family has asked for mercy for Williams,

Kenneth Williams, scheduled to be put to death Thursday, was allowed on Wednesday to see the 21-year-old daughter he hasn't seen in 17 years and meet his toddler granddaughter for the first time.

and recently purchased plane tickets so his daughter and toddler granddaughter could visit him before his execution.

Kenneth Williams, 38, is expected to become the fourth and final inmate to be put to death during a recent round of executions.  Ledell Lee was executed on April 20, followed by Jack Jones and Marcel Williams on April 24.  The double execution made Arkansas the first state to carry out two deaths in one evening since the year 2000.

Arkansas Public Media will be at Cummins Prison on Thursday evening for coverage of the execution.

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a 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

Ann Kenda joined Arkansas Public Media in January 2017 from Sudbury, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and previously worked in public radio, commercial radio and newspaper in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She focuses on health, justice, education and energy as part of the Arkansas Public Media team. Her stories can be found on the airwaves, and social media.
Related Content