US carries out 1st federal execution in nearly 2 decades

US carries out 1st federal execution in nearly 2 decades

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (AP) — The US government on Tuesday carried out the first federal execution in almost two decades, putting to death a man who killed an Arkansas family in the 1990s in a plot to build a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest. The execution came over the objection of the victims' family.

Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma, died by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The decision to move forward with the execution — the first by the Bureau of Prisons since 2003 — drew scrutiny from civil rights groups and the relatives of Lee's victims, who had sued to try to halt it, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision to move forward with the execution — and two others scheduled later in the week — during a global health pandemic that has killed more than 135,000 people in the United States and is ravaging prisons nationwide, drew scrutiny from civil rights groups as well as family of Lee's victims.

Critics argued that the government was creating an unnecessary and manufactured urgency for political gain.

“The government has been trying to plow forward with these executions despite many unanswered questions about the legality of its new execution protocol,” said Shawn Nolan, one of the attorneys for the men facing federal execution.

The developments are likely to add a new front to the national conversation about criminal justice reform in the lead-up to the 2020 elections.

Lee's execution went off after a series of legal volleys that ended when the Supreme Court stepped in early Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling and allowed it to move forward.


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