Death row inmate Wesley Ira Purkey who raped and dismembered teen girl before burning her body in 1998 files for stay of execution
Attorneys for Wesley Ira Purkey, a federal death row inmate scheduled for execution on December 13, have asked the court to stay his execution. Purkey had beaten an 80-year-old woman, Mary Ruth Bales, to death in October 1998 and tried to set the body on fire, but was arrested when his neighbors saw him in action.
He also confessed to the rape, murder, and dismembering of 16-year-old Jennifer Long from Kansas City in January 1998. He is said to have burned Long's body and then tossed the ashes in a pond 200 miles away.
The 67-year-old Kansas man is among the first five to face the death penalty after Attorney General William Barr announced earlier this year that the U.S. Department of Justice would resume the controversial punishment. This is the first time since 2003 that federal inmates will be executed.
Purkey's attorneys are now requesting for a chance to present claims that they believe his trial lawyer did not investigate.
He had confessed to his crimes in hopes that crossing state lines would get him on to a more comfortable federal prison. However, when prosecutors aimed for the death penalty, he recanted.
In the clemency petition, he states his primary motivation was to move from the Kansas Department Of Corrections where he had served before and had experienced brutality at the hands of staff and other inmates.
Purkey’s attorney, Rebecca Woodman said in a statement to MEA World Wide, that he "is not 'the worst of the worst.' He is a man who grew up in a house of horrors, beaten and humiliated by both of his parents and subjected to extensive and ongoing sexual abuse by members of his family. Where school might have been a safe haven, he attended a notorious Catholic school at which the nuns demeaned and brutalized him. Where the Church might have provided refuge, he was repeatedly molested by a priest."
Purkey’s current lawyers contend ineffective representation at trial as Woodman says that his traumatic history and other "vital evidence" from the past could have potentially led the jurors to vote for a life sentence instead.
Woodman and her team have filed for habeas petition, execution stay request, and clemency application seeking consideration of evidence of extreme trauma unknown to his sentencing jury at a federal court in Indiana. They're also asking President Donald Trump to use his executive clemency power to commute his death sentence to life without the possibility of parole.
In the clemency petition, which features a photo of Purley and his daughter, they requested the president to consider his dementia diagnosis and his remorse for the crime. "He has not forgiven himself, and so he cannot ask for forgiveness from you or your office,” Purkey’s attorneys wrote in the petition. "He asks only for your intervention, which would simply permit him to die in prison, at this late stage of his life.”