Arkansas races against the clock to get execution approval

But Leslie Rutledge (R), the state's attorney general, quickly sought a review of what she described as a flawed decision, filing a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to vacate one of the two stays, focusing the state's efforts on trying to carry out one execution Monday night.

But Arkansas hoped to get approval to execute Davis before his death warrant expired at midnight, and the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday night was weighing whether to allow Davis to be put to death. "Davis was convicted of his crimes in 1992".

The Republican governor said he's frustrated by the stay that the Arkansas Supreme Court issued earlier in the day for inmates Bruce Ward and Don Davis, who were set for execution Monday night.

As he awaited the court to decide his fate Davis ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes and strawberry cake - what could have been his last meal.

Opponents of the death penalty insisted that Arkansas was unjustly rushing its execution process and clamored for a halt to the executions. Both men's lawyer argued neither was mentally fit to face the death penalty and that their executions should be postponed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides on McWilliams v. Dunn, for which oral arguments are scheduled to begin next week.

"There are five scheduled executions remaining with nothing preventing them from occurring, but I will continue to respond to any and all legal challenges brought by the prisoners", Rutledge said.

Although lawyers for the inmates said in a statement that the stays mean "t$3 here will be no executions tonight", the coming days likely will involve significant additional litigation following a ruling against the inmates on their federal claim that the state's execution protocol - which uses the sedative midazolam - is unconstitutional.

"This decision was not unanimous and the dissenting opinions reflect the harm the delays cause the families of the victims and it also expresses my frustration in the continued delayed justice", Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who set the execution dates, said in a statement. Griffen, who served 12 years on the state appeals court, previously battled with the judicial discipline panel over remarks he made criticizing President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

The court's decision was the second time Don Davis had been granted a reprieve shortly before execution - he was within hours of death in 2010.

State and federal court rulings have stayed executions for two other inmates, and the state has yet to appeal those decisions. Mr. Davis has organic brain damage, intellectual disability, a history of head injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other severe mental health conditions.

The European Union on Wednesday urged Hutchinson to commute the death-row inmates' sentences. Both men were convicted of murders in 1993, and both maintain their innocence after more than two decades on death row.

The separate 8th Circuit Court decision vacated a ruling made over the weekend by a USA district judge that halted all eight executions.

But prosecutors surmounted a major roadblock earlier on Monday when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court judge's ruling to stay all of the executions. The state decided not to challenge the stay for Ward but the U.S. Supreme Court was weighing whether to allow Davis to be put to death.

Those moves came after the state had faced a series of legal setbacks in its plan to rush through the executions, an accelerated schedule it said was necessary because its supply of one of the drugs used, midazolam, was about to expire. Protesters gather outside the state Capitol building on Friday, April 14, 2017, in Little Rock, Ark., to voice their opposition to Arkansas' seven upcoming executions.

Further protests were to be held outside Hutchinson's official residence in Little Rock.