By Steve Barnes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) – The Arkansas Supreme Court allowed the state on Thursday to use a drug it had planned to use as part of a cocktail of multiple lethal injections this month but had been blocked by a lower court from using after a seller said the prison system used deception in acquiring the chemical.
The ruling came about three hours before Arkansas planned to execute convicted murderers Stacey Johnson and Ledell Lee.
It was not clear whether the state could proceed with either execution after multiple petitions for stays were filed at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not issued a ruling on the matters.
Arkansas was planning to execute Johnson and Lee from 7 p.m at its Cummins Unit in Grady, which houses the state’s death chamber.
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a halt to Johnson’s execution after he requested DNA testing he said could prove his innocence.
Legal experts said it was unlikely that the state could proceed with his execution.
On Thursday, the same court denied a request from Lee to halt his execution.
(Reporting by Steve Barnes in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)