SCOTUS has denied the Justice Department’s request to lift the injunction against the federal executions. The federal executions will not occur as scheduled.
Three of the Justices state that the government’s argument is meritorious and the D.C. Circuit Court should hear and resolve the government’s appeal of the preliminary injunction “with dispatch.”
But the outcome is that the appeals process — even decided with dispatch — will not be concluded before the death warrants scheduling the prisoners’ executions expire. So there will not be any federal executions in December or January.
The inmates scheduled for execution by lethal injection all were condemned in federal courts of murder.
Lee was scheduled to be the first of the group to be executed, at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana on Monday. Most male federal death row inmates are imprisoned in the Indiana prison.
A white supremacist, Lee was convicted in Arkansas in the suffocation deaths carried out with an accomplice of a gun dealer, the man’s wife and her 8-year-old daughter in 1996.
Wesley Purkey was scheduled to be executed at the same prison next Friday.
Purkey was convicted in the 1998 kidnapping, rape, murder and dismembering of a 16-year-old girl in Kansas. Purkey separately pleaded guilty in the bludgeoning death of an 80-year-old woman.
Purkey’s lawyers have filed a separate challenge to his execution, saying he should be spared because he has developed Alzheimer’s disease.
The four death-row inmates with blocked executions were convicted in Texas, Missouri, Indiana and Iowa. Both Texas and Missouri use pentobarbital for executions, while Indiana uses a three-drug protocol. Iowa has no death penalty, but in that case, the courts selected Indiana — where federal executions are carried out — as its death-penalty state.
In its July announcement, the federal government identified five individuals to be executed: Daniel Lewis Lee on Dec. 9; Lezmond Mitchell on Dec. 11; Wesley Ira Purkey on Dec. 13; Alfred Bourgeois on Jan. 13, and Dustin Honken on Jan. 15.
Mitchell’s execution was stayed in October by a federal appeals court.