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2 Arkansas death row inmates claim they're too obese to execute

Two Arkansas death row inmates, Marcel Williams and Stacey Eugene Johnson, have asked a federal judge to halt their executions because they say they are too obese for the drugs to effectively work on them. (KATV)

Update: Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker dismissed Johnson’s claim that Arkansas’s lethal injection protocol violates his Eighth Amendment rights.

Baker also dismissed Williams claim, but ordered Williams and Johnson to submit the evidence they would have brought before the court so they can have a record of appeal.

Johnson and Williams have filed an appeal with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Original Story: Two Arkansas death row inmates, Marcel Williams and Stacey Eugene Johnson, have asked a federal judge to halt their executions because they say they are too obese for the drugs to effectively work on them.

Williams' lawyer writes in a brief that Williams gained 200 pounds while in prison and that when he went to prison he weighed 195 pounds.

Williams has stayed in a 90-square-foot cell, which is half the size of a standard parking space, and gets one hour of recreational time a day.

"Williams has been housed in extreme solitary confinement, he has gained 200 pounds and developed high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. The prison has recorded Mr. Williams' body mass index at 48.74," his lawyer writes in a brief.

Johnson's lawyer wrote in a court document that he weighs about 350 pounds and suffers from hypertension and sleep apnea.

Dr. Joel Zivot, an associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, found that Johnson's large size could botch the execution and "makes it more likely that the execution will fail and Mr. Johnson will be left alive, but disabled from the attempt."

They also argue the executioners will not be able to find a vein.

"Dr. Zivot concluded that if the Arkansas lethal-injection protocol is carried out as written, Mr. Johnson, in particular, will suffer respiratory distress and hypoxia, and he is at serious risk for irreversible organ damage or for a suffocating, painful death," the lawyer writes in the brief.


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