Arkansas

Arkansas is scheduled to execute convicted murderer Kenneth William tonight, who has been on death row since 2000.

Williams is set to be the fourth and final inmate executed there this month, after the state initially scheduled eight condemned inmates to die over 11 days — the fastest pace of executions in decades.

Arkansas, which has been in a race to execute death-row inmates before a key lethal drug expires, plans to hold its final execution in the series Thursday night.

Attorneys for the condemned men have put forth arguments about their innocence, intellectual abilities, mental states and about the execution procedure.

But what happens to those debates after an execution?

Ledell Lee was the first inmate executed this month in Arkansas. There was scant physical evidence tying him to the murder he was convicted of, and he was never given a DNA test before his execution.

Updated 11:40 p.m. ET

Arkansas executed two inmates on Monday night, the first double execution in the U.S. since 2000.

The second inmate put to death was Marcel Williams. He and the prisoner executed just before him, Jack Jones Jr. — both convicted murderers — had filed last-minute appeals that were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Updated at 2 a.m. ET

Arkansas has carried out its first execution since 2005, just minutes before the expiration of the inmate's death warrant.

Ledell Lee was executed by lethal injection minutes before midnight Friday Central time in Grady, Ark. at the Cummins Unit facility, shortly before the warrant was set to expire.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Thursday, NPR member station KUAR Public Radio reports.

Updated 10 a.m. ET Tuesday

Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by Arkansas to lift a stay that would have allowed officials to conduct the state's first execution in nearly a dozen years.

But while Monday's two scheduled executions were blocked, a path has been cleared for the state to carry out other killings scheduled this month; the next two are set for Thursday night.

A federal judge in Arkansas has blocked the execution of one of eight death row inmates scheduled to die later this month, saying the schedule set by the state doesn't allow enough time for the inmate's clemency petition to proceed.

On Wednesday, a parole board recommended that the inmate in question, Jason McGehee, be granted clemency. The final decision on clemency is up to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, but U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. ruled that the state needed to allow a 30-day comment period.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET Tuesday

With the stroke of a pen on Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson separated a holiday that has for decades celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee in the state.

Under the bill that Hutchinson signed into law, King now has the third Monday of January entirely to himself, as dictated by federal law; Lee will now be commemorated in a state holiday on the second Saturday of October.

Orientation at Arkansas Tech University this year included a surprising topic for a Bible Belt state that pushes abstinence-only in high school. Every freshman was shown a newly produced video in which real students talk about the struggle of an unplanned pregnancy, and the challenge of staying in school as a parent.