A former white supremacist sentenced to death for a triple murder was executed Tuesday, the first of four federal prisoners to apply to this award re-launched after 17 years of interruption by the government of Donald Trump which calls for an increased use of capital punishment in the United States.
Daniel Lee, died at 08h07 a lethal injection at the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, announced the department of Justice.
“You kill an innocent man,” said the condemned before they die, according to a reporter from the Indianapolis Star, who attended the execution.
Her lawyer, Ruth Friedman, denounced in a press release, a sentence carried out “in haste, in the middle of the night, while the country was asleep”.
She pointed out that the condemned man had waited four hours, strapped to his death bed, waiting for the outcome of a final appeal.
The u.s. section of Amnesty International was “appalled” by the execution “, which goes against a global trend of abandoning the death penalty”.
The minister of Justice, Bill Barr, has on the contrary stated that “justice (had) been made today in having the sentence for the horrific crimes” of Daniel Lee.
In America, the debate on the application of the death penalty, restored in 1988 at the federal level, remains bright with a reduced support in the population, but it remains strong among republican voters.
Three other executions are scheduled
The next person sentenced to death, Wesley Purkey, 68 years of age, must be executed Wednesday at 16h local, still in Terre Haute. He was convicted in 2003 of raping and killing a young girl of 16 years.
But his lawyer has asked the justice to suspend the sentence, claiming he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and mental disorders.
Two other executions are scheduled in the federal framework, 17 July and 28 August.
In the United States, most crimes are tried at the state level, and some, especially in the South, continue to apply the death penalty. Seven people have been executed by local courts in the year 2020.
But the federal justice department can get a handle on of the most serious acts (terrorist attacks, hate crimes, etc.) or committed on military bases, between several States or in indian reservations.
Since 1988, only three people have been executed for a federal crime, including Timothy McVeigh, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing (168 dead in 1995) in 2001.
Donald Trump, who briguera a second term on 3 November, is a staunch supporter of the death penalty, including for the killers of police or drug traffickers, and Bill Barr had announced last year the resumption of executions of federal.
Daniel Lee, 47 years old, had been convicted in 1999 of killing a couple and their 8 year old girl in Arkansas three years earlier, during a robbery, intended to fund a group supremacist.
Recourse last minute
It was scheduled to be executed on Monday, the first of four death row inmates whose executions are planned by the end of August, but judicial remedies of last minute delayed the proceedings.
The condemned have argued that the protocol execution – a lethal dose of pentobarbital – they would be suffering “irreparable harm” in violation of the Constitution, an argument often used by opponents of capital punishment.
In the night, the supreme Court has given the green light by the federal authorities for this run, the first since 2003.
The Court said the four men, sentenced to the death penalty for the killing of a child, had “not done enough to justify intervention in a last-minute federal court” and that the executions could take place as planned”.
The high court in the us has also rejected the appeal of the mother of the two victims, Earlene Peterson, who asked for the postponement of the execution of Daniel Lee due to the pandemic of sars coronavirus.
At 81 years of age, she refused to choose between his right to attend the last moments of the convicted person and the protection of its health, while a case of COVID-19 has been released to the public on Sunday in Terre Haute.
According to journalist present at the prison on Tuesday morning, a dozen witnesses have witnessed the execution.
On their side, in a thousand religious leaders, catholics and evangelicals, have called on the president to “focus on the protection of the life and not on executions” in these times of COVID-19.