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Arkansas court strikes mental competency law for executions

Justices ruled Thursday that the competency law violated due process rights guaranteed in the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions. (MGN Photo)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The Arkansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that gives the state's prison director authority to determine whether an inmate is mentally competent to be put to death, siding with two convicted murderers who were spared from execution last year.

Justices ruled Thursday that the competency law violated due process rights guaranteed in the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions. Convicted murderers Bruce Ward and Jack Greene were granted stays last year so the court could hear their case.

Ward was one of eight inmates whom Arkansas planned to execute in April 2017. Ward and three other inmates were granted stays. Greene was scheduled to be put to death in November, but was that was also halted.

Arkansas has no executions scheduled, and lacks two of the three execution drugs needed.

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