Daniel Lewis Lee executed for slaughtering Arkansas family in 1996 after Supreme Court backs Trump's decision
The execution date was set for July 13 last month but victims' family members had opposed his execution as they won't travel amid coronavirus pandemic
INDIANA, WASHINGTON, DC: Daniel Lewis Lee has been executed for torturing, killing Arkansas family in 1996, first federal execution in 17 years. Daniel Lewis Lee, a 47-year-old white supremacist, who tortured and killed an Arkansas family, was executed in Indiana early morning on Tuesday, June 14. Lee was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital at 8:07 AM, just hours after the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead to the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump's administration is going ahead with the first federal execution in 17 years, of white supremacist Daniel Lewis Lee, after the Supreme Court, late on Monday, July 13, reversed the decision of a lower court. A lower federal court in Washington DC had put a halt on all federal executions hours before Lee was set to be given a lethal injection on Monday at Terre Haute prison in Indiana. Shortly after, a federal appeals court in Washington refused Trump administration's plea to intervene, which led the Justice Department to approach the Supreme Court, which voted 5-4 in favor of Lee's execution.
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, in her halt order, had written: "(B)ecause the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process, and is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed in a manner consistent with our Constitution, the court finds that it is in the public interest to issue a preliminary injunction."
The execution date for Lee, a member of a white supremacist group, who slaughtered an entire Arkansas family in 1996, was set for July 13 by the Justice Department last month, however, some family members of the victims had opposed his execution. The new dates of at least four executions starting mid-July were announced by the federal agency on June 15.
After the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday night, Lee's lawyers had insisted that the execution could no go forward after midnight under federal regulations. The top court, with conservatives in the majority, in an unsigned opinion, stated that the prisoners' "executions may proceed as planned." However, the four liberal justices dissented on the opinion. According to court papers, Lee's execution was scheduled for nearly 4:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 14.
The Bureau of Prisons had reportedly continued with the preparations for Lee's execution despite lower courts halting the proceedings. Prison officials said that Lee, during this time, has had access to social visitors, has been allowed to receive mail, and has visited his spiritual adviser. Reports state that witnesses for Lee are expected to include three family members, his lawyers, and a spiritual adviser, according to the Daily Mail.
Shawn Nolan, one of the attorneys for the men facing federal execution, released a statement on the latest decision and told MEAWW: “The government has been trying to plow forward with these executions despite many unanswered questions about the legality of its new execution protocol. The district court’s injunction ensures that the courts will have the opportunity to carefully address those issues. Given that these executions threaten to become COVID-19 super-spreader events, the injunction will also protect the lives and health of the correctional staff, victim family members, spiritual advisors, attorneys, and others who must witness the executions.”
The Trump administration's move to go ahead with executions during th coronavirus pandemic, which has taken lives of more than 135,000 people in the United States, has drawn widespread criticism from various civil rights groups, including the family of Lee's victims.