LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A federal judge’s ruling has dropped the number of men set to be executed this month in Arkansas from eight to seven. This comes the day after the parole board recommended clemency for Jason McGehee.
McGehee is the only inmate so far the parole board believes the governor should not execute. Now, U.S. District Court Judge D. Price Marshall is telling Governor Hutchinson because of a mandatory comment period, he can’t execute McGehee.
The Associated Press reported that Marshall said five of the executions could go forward as scheduled despite finding that the state broke some rules and policies.
But, McGehee is one inmate whose case has been looked over and become a question of whether he deserves death
"It’s very satisfying to know somebody is finally waking up and realizing everything," said McGehee's father, Jackie McGehee. “There must be a lot of truth to it with everybody that's got good things to say about Jason."
While McGehee's execution was scheduled for April 27, Judge Marshall said the state must allow for a 30 day public comment period from when the clemency recommendation was announced Wednesday. Since the key execution drug expires April 30, McGehee's execution won’t be able to happen this month. All this, after the parole board heard McGehee's testimony.
“I wish I could change what happened. John deserved to live. None of this should have happened," said McGehee during his clemency hearing.
McGehee was sentenced to death for torturing and killing 15-year-old John Melbourne Jr. in 1996. He was one of three men found guilty in the gang related incident. McGehee is the only one on death row.
“Under the circumstance, why kill my boy and everything when he didn't do it," questioned McGehee's father.
Attorney General Rutledge's office released a statement saying:
"The victims' families have waited far too long to see justice for their loved ones, and today's decision from Judge Marshall allows all but one of the scheduled executions to move forward. Attorney General Rutledge will respond to any and all challenges that might occur between now and the executions as the prisoners continue to use all available means to delay their lawful sentences."
The only way McGehee can be executed at the end of the month is if Rutledge decides to file an appeal and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Judge Marshall's decision. So far, no appeal has been filed.
Now, the stakes are high for Jack Jones whose clemency hearing is happening Friday. Judge Marshall said if the board also recommends clemency for him, he will issue the same stay.