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Supreme Court clears way for federal executions to resume after 17 years with white supremacist who murdered an eight-year-old girl due to be killed by lethal injection in July

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to block the execution of four federal prison inmates who are scheduled to be put to death in July and August.
A white supremacist convicted of a triple homicide is scheduled to be the first person to be executed under federal law since 2003 after decision.
Daniel Lewis Lee was scheduled to be executed late last year when a federal court in Washington blocked his scheduled execution. Now his execution has been scheduled for July 13.
Three others will follow him to the federal execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. All four were found guilty of killing children.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted that they would have blocked the executions from going forward by hearing the appeal.
The court's action leaves no obstacles standing in the way of the executions, the first of which is scheduled for July 13.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47-year-old avowed white supremacist, was scheduled to be put to death on Monday for the 1996 murder of a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl in Arkansas. 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 bayou
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47-year-old avowed white supremacist, was scheduled to be put to death on Monday for the 1996 murder of a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl in Arkansas. 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 bayou
Wesley Ira Purkey, 68, of Kansas, will be executed for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl and an 80-year-old woman
Dustin Lee Honken, 52, who killed five people in Iowa, including two children also is scheduled for execution
Also scheduled for execution is Keith Dwayne Nelson, 45, who was convicted for kidnapping a 10-year-old girl who was rollerblading in front of her Kansas home and raped her in a forest behind a church before strangling the young girl to death with a wire
Inmates (left to right) Wesley Ira Purkey, 68; Dustin Lee Honken, 52; and Keith Dwayne Nelson, 45, are scheduled for execution by order of US Attorney General William Barr
The execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana is seen in a file photo. Judge said Wedneday that executions must be 'prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed' and Indiana uses three drugs
The execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana is seen in a file photo. Judge said Wedneday that executions must be 'prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed' and Indiana uses three drugs
The activity at the high court came after Attorney General William Barr directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions.

Three of the men had been scheduled to be put to death when Barr first announced the federal government would resume executions last year, ending an informal moratorium on federal capital punishment as the issue receded from the public domain.
'The American people, acting through Congress and Presidents of both political parties, have long instructed that defendants convicted of the most heinous crimes should be subject to a sentence of death,' Barr said in a statement last month. 
'The four murderers whose executions are scheduled today have received full and fair proceedings under our Constitution and laws. We owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes, and to the families left behind, to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.'
The federal government's initial effort was put on hold by a trial judge after the inmates challenged the new execution procedures, and the federal appeals court in Washington and the Supreme Court both declined to step in late last year. But in April, the appeals court threw out the judge´s order.
The federal prison in Indiana where the executions would take place, USP Terre Haute, has struggled to combat the coronavirus pandemic behind bars. One inmate there has died from COVID-19.
The inmates scheduled for execution are: Danny Lee, who was convicted in Arkansas of killing a family of three, including an 8-year-old; Wesley Ira Purkey, of Kansas, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman; Dustin Lee Honken, who killed five people in Iowa, including two children; and Keith Dwayne Nelson, who kidnapped a 10-year-old girl who was rollerblading in front of her Kansas home and raped her in a forest behind a church before strangling the young girl with a wire.
Three of the executions - for Lee, Purkley and Honken - are scheduled days apart beginning July 13. Nelson's execution is scheduled for Aug. 28. The Justice Department said additional executions will be set at a later date.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sonya Sotomayor
Two of the court's four liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, favored hearing the appeal
Ruth Friedman, an attorney for Lee, decried the federal death penalty as 'arbitrary, racially-biased, and rife with poor lawyering and junk science.'
'Despite these problems, and even as people across the country are demanding that leaders rethink crime, punishment, and justice, the government is barreling ahead with its plans to carry out the first federal executions in 17 years,' Friedman said in a statement. 
'Given the unfairness built into the federal death penalty system and the many unanswered questions about both the cases of the men scheduled to die and the government's new execution protocol, there must be appropriate court review before the government can proceed with any execution.'
Purkey's lawyers separately filed court papers last week asking a federal judge to halt his execution, arguing that he isn't mentally fit to be executed because he suffers from 'advancing Alzheimer's disease and deteriorating cognitive functioning.' 
The lawyers argue that Purkey doesn't understand why the government plans to execute him and that he believes it is retaliation for many complaints about conditions in the federal prison system.
Executions on the federal level have been rare and the government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988 - most recently in 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young female soldier.

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