WASHINGTON (AP and WPTA21) — The Supreme Court has refused to block the execution of four federal prison inmates who are scheduled to be put to death in July and August.
The executions would mark the first use of the death penalty on the federal level since 2003.
Executions of federal prisoners take place at the maximum security penitentiary at Terre Haute, Ind.
There are believed to be 62 people at the facility who are awaiting execution.
Earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to move forward with the executions, putting each of the four on a schedule.
The justices rejected an appeal from those inmates, each of whom were convicted of killing children.
The court’s action leaves no obstacles standing in the way of the executions, the first of which is scheduled for July 13.
The inmates are separately asking a federal judge in Washington to impose a new delay on their executions over other legal issues that have yet to be resolved.
Those facing execution are:
- Daniel Lewis Lee, a member of a white supremacist group, murdered a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl. After robbing and shooting the victims with a stun gun, Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois bayou. On May 4, 1999, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and he was sentenced to death. Lee’s execution is scheduled to occur on July 13, 2020.
- Wesley Ira Purkey violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond. He also was convicted in state court for using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio and walked with a cane. On November 5, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping a child resulting in the child’s death, and he was sentenced to death. Purkey’s execution is scheduled to occur on July 15, 2020.
- Dustin Lee Honken shot and killed five people — two men who planned to testify against him, and a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-year-old daughters. On October 14, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was sentenced to death. Honken’s execution is scheduled to occur on July 17, 2020.
- Keith Dwayne Nelson kidnapped a 10-year-old girl rollerblading in front of her home, and in a forest behind a church, raped her and strangled her to death with a wire. On October 25, 2001, Nelson pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to the kidnapping and unlawful interstate transportation of a child for the purpose of sexual abuse which resulted in death, and he was sentenced to death. Nelson’s execution is scheduled to occur on August 28, 2020.