- The U.S. government on Tuesday carried out the first federal execution in almost two decades, putting to death a man who killed an Arkansas family in a 1990s in a plot to build a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma, died by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I didn’t do it,” Lee said just before he was executed. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer. … You’re killing an innocent man.”
Lee’s death Tuesday came a day after a federal judge halted the first federal execution in 17 years just hours before it was scheduled to take place.
Citing the potential pain inflicted by the lethal injection cocktail, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan stopped the scheduled execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, a former white supremacist who murdered an Alabama gun dealer, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter in 1996.
The Justice Department immediately filed a notice with the court saying it intends to appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling.
Government lawyers called Judge Chutkan’s ruling “inappropriate,” saying it “conflicts with binding Supreme Court precedent.”
In her ruling, Judge Chutkan scolded the Trump administration, accusing the president’s team of rushing the execution process and preventing inmates from fully litigating their appeals.
Inmates and others on their behalf have filed multiple legal challenges to the executions, ranging from fears of traveling to a prison amid the coronavirus pandemic to claims the drugs used in lethal injection violate the Constitution’s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishments.
“The succession of last-minute rulings is the result of the Government’s decision to set short execution dates even as many claims, including those addressed here, were pending,” Judge Chutkan wrote. “The Government is entitled to choose dates, but the court cannot take shortcuts in its obligations in order to accommodate those dates.”
“The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them.”
—Lois McMaster Bujold
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.