An Arkansas death row inmate expressed remorse in his final words as his victim’s daughter watched the execution.
Kenneth Williams, 38, was serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of Dominique Hurd, CNN reported. His charges were upgraded to capital murder after he escaped from prison and killed Cecil Boren.
Williams was executed by lethal injection on April 27. Boren’s daughter, Jodie Efird, watched the the execution from the death chamber. She said that while the sentence did not bring closure, it did help a little.
“Every time we drive down this road, he’s not here anymore,” Efird said of Williams.
For his final words, Williams appeared remorseful.
“I was more than wrong,” Williams said, according to CNN. “The crime I perpetrated against you all was senseless.”
Williams died at 11:05 p.m. local time. He was executed at the same prison he escaped from and was the last of eight inmates originally scheduled to be executed in the month of April.
The execution also took place just before the expiration of the state’s supply of sedatives used in lethal injections. Arkansas is struggling to obtain lethal injection drugs as many suppliers do not want their products used in executions.
Williams and several other inmates on death row originally fought their death sentences on the grounds that midazolam – the sedative used to render inmates unconscious – does not prevent a painful death. The Arkansas Supreme Court denied that claim.
Donna Terrell, who also witnessed the execution, said Williams’ chest began going up and down rapidly once the midazolam was injected. She said it continued for about four minutes, until it appeared that Williams stopped breathing, or it was not noticeable anymore.
Terrell added that witnesses could hear loud breathing despite Williams’ mic being turned off. She said there was no expression on Williams’ face, and it did not appear as if he was in pain.
Other media witnesses reported seeing “coughing, convulsing, lurching, jerking” for a 10 to 20 second time period during Williams’ execution, NBC reported.
Williams’ attorney Shawn Nolan is now calling for an investigation into the execution. He called the descriptions “horrifying.”
“This is very disturbing, but not at all surprising, given the history of the risky sedative midazolam, which has been used in many botched executions,” Nolan told NBC. “What’s important right now is that all the information about tonight’s execution must be meticulously documented and preserved so that we can discover exactly what happened in that execution chamber.”
Arkansas’ string of executions have sparked backlash throughout the country.
“While the rest of the country and the world moves away from the death penalty, Arkansas has shown just how committed it is to running in the wrong direction,” James Clark, a senior campaigner at Amnesty International USA, told CNN. “While it is too late for Kenneth Williams, Jack Jones, Marcel Williams, and Ledell Lee, it is not too late to commute the sentences of all of those remaining on death row.