American Prison Executes First Federal Death Row Inmate In 17 Years
The US has executed its first federal death row inmate in 17 years.
Daniel Lewis Lee was convicted of killing William Mueller, his wife Nancy and their eight-year-old daughter Sarah Powell in Arkansas in 1996.
The self-professed white supremacist was put to death by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
When the 47-year-old was asked if he had any final words, just moments before he was killed at 8.07am EDT, he said: "I didn't do it. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I'm not a murderer... You're killing an innocent man."
The execution was allowed after the Supreme Court ended with a 5-4 vote in favour of putting Lee to death. It's the first execution of a federal inmate since 2003.
Associated Press journalist Mike Balsamo witnessed the execution and said: "Mr. Lee was already strapped to the gurney when the curtain was raised. He had been strapped to the gurney for several hours at that point. Once the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that he would be put to death, they began to administer the lethal injection drug."
His execution order went through several legal challenges, which also included pleas from the victims' relatives to let him live. Some of the relatives were there to witness Lee's execution and they stated it was against their wishes.
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Relative 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.'"
They pointed to Lee's co-defendant, the reputed white supremacist ringleader Chevie Kehoe, being given life behind bars instead of a death sentence.
Kehoe recruited Lee in 1995 to join the Aryan Peoples' Republic, a white supremacist organisation.
The pair dressed in police clothing and waited for Mueller to come home, according to court documents. When William, Nancy and Sarah arrived, they incapacitated the parents and interrogated Sarah about her father's money, guns and munitions.
The duo eventually left the property in Little Rock with $50,000 in cash as well as weapons and ammunition. Prosecutors say Lee wrapped the victim's heads in plastic bags, sealed it with duct tape and threw them into Illinois Bayou with weights to hold them down.
A massive search and rescue was conducted to find the family and it wasn't until five months after they went missing that their bodies were found.
Three years after the grisly murders, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of three counts of murder in aid of racketeering. He was sentenced to death in 1999 and was on death row ever since.
Kehoe was instead sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and is currently serving out his term in Florence High Penitentiary, Colorado.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: US News