Kenneth Williams, a death row inmate who killed a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader and three others, is among eight inmates who are scheduled to be put to death in April.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recently issued proclamations setting the execution dates for Williams and seven other men after the U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld the state’s lethal-injection law, and the state Supreme Court lifted stays of executions for the inmates.
Williams, scheduled to be executed on April 27, was sentenced to death in August 2000 for killing 57-year-old Cecil Boren, a Grady farmer. Boren once worked as a warden at the prison where Williams escaped while serving a life sentence for the shooting death of UAPB cheerleader Dominique Hurd
Williams, now 38, avoided a death sentence in September 1999 when a Jefferson County jury sentenced him to life in prison for the December 1998 kidnapping and murder of Hurd.
Less than a month later, while serving his life sentence at the Cummins Unit of the state prison system in Lincoln County, Williams escaped by hiding in a hog slop-filled tank of a garbage truck. Before he was captured the following day, Williams killed two more people.
Williams, then 20, fatally shot Boren at Boren’s Grady farm near the Cummins Unit. Boren was shot in the head and back. Williams stole Boren’s pickup truck and several guns then drove to Missouri where he led police on a high-speed chase. Williams crashed Boren’s pickup truck into a delivery truck driven by a 24-year-old Missouri man. The Missouri man was killed in the crash.
In August 2000, 11 months after Williams’ was convicted of killing the UAPB cheerleader, a Lincoln County jury sentenced him to death for murdering Boren.
Five years later, in a letter to the editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial, Williams confessed to killing yet another person. In his September 2005 letter to The Commercial, Williams said he shot and killed 36-year-old Jerrell Jenkins of Pine Bluff on December 13, 1998, the same day that he murdered the cheerleader.
Arkansas has not carried out any executions since 2005 because of court challenges and difficulty in obtaining lethal injection drugs.
“As required by law, I have set the execution dates for the eight convicted of capital murder,” Hutchinson said in a statement on Monday. “This is based upon the attorney general’s referral and the exhaustion of all appeals and court reviews that have been ongoing for more than a decade. This action is necessary to fulfill the requirement of the law, but it is also important to bring closure to the victims’ families who have lived with the court appeals and uncertainty for a very long time.”
Hutchinson issued proclamations scheduling the following executions:
• April 17 – Don William Davis and Bruce Earl Ward
Don William Davis was convicted of the October 12, 1990, murder of Jane Daniel of Rogers.
Bruce Earl Ward was convicted of the August 11, 1989, murder of Rebecca Doss of Little Rock.
• April 20 – Stacey Eugene Johnson and Ledelle Lee.
Stacey Eugene Johnson was convicted in Sevier County of the April 1, 1993, murder of Carol Heath of DeQueen.
Ledell Lee was convicted of the February 9, 1993, beating death of Debra Reese in Jacksonville.
• April 24 – Jack Harold Jones and Marcel W. Williams.
Jack Harold Jones, Jr. was convicted of the June 6, 1995 murder of Mary Phillips of Searcy.
Marcel Wayne Williams was convicted of the November 20, 1994, murder of Stacy Errickson of Jacksonville.
• April 27 – Jason F. McGehee and Kenneth D. Williams.
Jason McGehee was convicted of the August 19, 1996, murder of John Melbourne, Jr., of Harrison.