Washington (AFP) - A US judge on Thursday blocked the planned execution of one of eight prisoners whose deaths were scheduled to take place in Arkansas this month.
Federal Judge Price Marshall issued his decision in the case of Jason McGehee, saying his execution should be stayed an additional 30 days for his case to be considered after the state's parole board recommended he be granted clemency.
The delay may push McGehee's execution well past that period because one of the lethal injection drugs the state uses expires at the end of April. Arkansas was trying to carry out the unprecedented series of executions before then.
McGehee was convicted in the kidnapping and murder of an adolescent in 1996.
The state's Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has stirred intense controversy since announcing the executions of eight men in 10 days, citing shortages of a drug used in lethal injections.
Use of the death penalty in the United States has fallen in recent years partly because procuring deadly drugs that meet constitutional standards has become more difficult.
The seven other prisoners in the group are still scheduled for execution between April 17 and 27.
Their lawyers have launched a variety of legal challenges and judgments are expected in the coming days.
No single US state has held eight executions in 10 days since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.