The U.S District Court has ruled that the federal execution of Daniel Lewis Lee be halted honoring requests from Lee’s victims’ families and several legal proceeding that had called for blocking the execution due to coronavirus pandemic.
The court ruled on Monday July 13, 2020, that the Trump administration cannot go ahead with scheduled execution of Lee who was supposed to be put to death by lethal injections on Monday at 4 p.m. at a federal prison in Indiana.
Lee, 47, was convicted in Arkansas of the killings of a gun dealer, William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell in 1996.
Lee’s execution could have been the first of federal execution since 2003.
An injunction granted last week to carry on the execution was overturned by an appeal court on Sunday after Lee’s victims’ family said they would be exposing themselves to the coronavirus infections if they traveled to witness the execution.
Speaking about this, Baker Kurru, the family’s attorney, said, “The federal government has put this family in the untenable position of choosing between their right to witness Danny Lee’s execution and their own health and safety.”
The government has been pushing for federal executions to be carried out even amidst spread of coronavirus.
Speaking about while the execution should go ahead, Attorney General William Barr, in June said, “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,”
“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,” he added.
Speaking further, he said there would not be any risks of contracting the virus because Bureau of Prison would put necessary measures in place such as wearing mask and temperature checks so that executions could be carried out without fears of infections.
Contrary to the government decision to execute Lee, the relatives of the victims have instead requested that Lee be given a life sentence not execution.
The relatives stated that they wanted to witness the execution only to counter any impression that it was being done on their behalf.
While expressing this opinion, one of the relatives, Monica Veillette, said, “For us it is a matter of being there and saying, ‘This is not being done in our name; we do not want this.”
Similarly, Nancy’s mother has repeatedly requested that the government should overturn Lee’s death penalty because she believes executing him would not honor her daughter, Nancy.
“I can’t see how executing Daniel Lee will honor my daughter in any way,” she said. “In fact, it’s kind of like it dirties her name. Because she wouldn’t want it and I don’t want it.”