An Oklahoma City federal judge on Monday denied Julius Jones and four other inmates execution stays.
The decision came just three days before the first execution is scheduled to be carried out. The inmates immediately appealed.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that the state’s interest in timely enforcement of its judgments cannot be ignored,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said in announcing the decision.
Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since January 2015, more than six years ago. A lethal injection scheduled for later that year was called off after the wrong drug was delivered.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in September set execution dates after the inmates were kicked out of a federal lawsuit over the lethal injection procedure.