On Tuesday, the United States carried out the first Federal execution after 17 years after a Supreme Court decision. Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, was executed Tuesday morning at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lee, a self-proclaimed white supremacist was sentenced in 1999 for racketeering and the murder of three people in Arkansas.
There were last-minute efforts to try and stop the execution of Lee from moving forward but failed. It was also argued in court that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was against the inmate’s rights to not have their witnesses and their spiritual guide present.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan halted federal executions just hours before Lee was originally scheduled to receive the lethal injection. Chutkan issued the hold following a ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday that Federal executions could proceed.
Judge Chutkan had ruled that the government was “entitled to choose dates but the court cannot take shortcuts” only to “accommodate those dates.” Chutkan continued that the men have a right to continue their “legal challenges against a new lethal injection.” In 2019, it was ruled that only one drug could be used for lethal injections.
The drug in question is pentobarbital, also known as pentobarbital sodium. Pentobarbital is commonly used by veterinarians to euthanize animals when needed. The drug in high doses it quickly brings on unconsciousness and causes the brain and heart to stop within minutes.
The Administration quickly filed an immediate appeal against Chutkan’s ruling. Overnight in a 5–4 decision the US Supreme Court reversed Judge Chutkan’s ruling.
United States Attorney General, William Barr released a statement on Lee’s execution being followed out. Barr said, “Lee finally the justice he deserved” and that the “American people made the considered choice.
In Lees’s final statement before he was executed he said that “he did not do it” and “bared no responsibility.”
Lee along with Chevie Kehoe, both members of the Aryan Peoples Republic entered the Arkansas home of William Frederick Mueller, 52, a gun dealer, and weapons collector on January 13, 1996. The family was not home when Lee and Kehoe broke in looking for weapons and cash and couldn’t find it. The two decided to wait for Mueller to go home.
When Mueller and his 28-year-old wife Nancy and their eight-year-old daughter Sarah returned home, they were ambushed. Lee and Kehoe tied the family up and demanded that Mueller’s tell them where the weapons and cash were hidden, while they tortured them. When the men did not get the information they wanted, they shot the couple and then placed plastic bags over their heads suffocating them to death. Then the pair turned to Sarah and began torturing the little girl.
According to court documents, the men tortured Sarah, trying to get information out of her using an electric cattle prod before placing a plastic bag over her head smothering her. After the family murdered, Lee and Kehoe threw their bodies into the river.
Currently, there are 62 inmates currently on federal death row. Wesley Ira Purkey scheduled for July 15, 2020. Purkey will be executed at the same prison as Lee.