Kenneth Williams, who was sentenced to death for the 1999 shooting death of Cecil Boren in Lincoln County, is one of eight condemned inmates on a list of those Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked Gov. Asa Hutchinson to set execution dates.
Arkansas has not carried out the death penalty in 10 years due to legal battles surrounding the drugs used for lethal execution. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision this summer, approved the continued use of the sedative midazolam as the first step in executions, rejecting a challenge from three Oklahoma inmates now set to be put to death in September and October. The Arkansas Legislature also passed a law this year to keep secret the suppliers of lethal injection drugs.
Williams killed four people, including the Lincoln County farmer, a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader, a 36-year-old Pine Bluff man and a Missouri motorist.
Williams was sentenced to death for killing Cecil Boren, a Grady farmer who once worked as a warden at the prison where Williams escaped while serving a life sentence for the shooting death of the UAPB cheerleader.
Williams, now 36, 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 Dominique Hurd, a cheerleader at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
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 57-year-old Cecil 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.
Williams is the only death row inmate from Southeast Arkansas on the execution date request list.In addition to Williams, Rutledge has asked the governor to set execution dates for the following death row inmates who have exhausted all appeals:
• Don William Davis
• Stacey Johnson
• Jack Jones
• Jason McGehee
• Terrick Nooner
• Bruce Earl Ward
• Marcel Williams