A convicted murderer in the name of Lewis Lee, was executed this morning for the first time in 17 years that anyone have been sentenced to death after the Supreme Court issued an overnight ruling that it could proceed with the death penalty.
Lee was declared dead by the coroner at 8:07 a.m. ET in Terrre Haute, Indiana. He gave his last words in which 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,” this is according to a pool report.
The Supreme Court reinstated the use of the federal death penalty in an unsigned order released after 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.
The court put away a lower court order temporarily preventing the execution of Lee in a 5 to 4 vote.
Lee who was a one-time white supremacist, was said to have murdered a family of three, and was set to be executed Monday. A federal judge tried to prevent the planned execution of Lee, and three others, saying that there were ongoing challenges to the federal government’s lethal injection protocol.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday declined the Justice Department’s request to stay the injunction. The Justice Department had appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court stated that those inmates on death row together with Lee, in which their case was presented have not been able to show that they might likely succeed in their challenge simply because the one drug protocol recommended by the government, which is the single dose pentobarbital, has become something usually preferred for state executions.
Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both agree for the court to revisit the use of death penalty as a punishment for murder.
He said the revisiting of federal executions will show how difficult it is to issue a death penalty.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ginsburg, wrote separately to condemn the court’s quick decision making.
She mentioned that the court will forever deny respondents the right to challenge the court for the use of lethal injection.
There are three appeals which looks to stall the execution which is pending at the Supreme Court. The first one involves the family of Lee’s victims who are worried about traveling and going to a federal prison during the coronavirus pandemic. A second involves the evidence presented by prosecutors during his sentencing hearing.
In 2019, Attorney General William Barr decided to reimpose the use of death penalty after nearly two decades of it’s use.
Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to go ahead with the executions of some “death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society, children and the elderly.” The scheduled executions brought back legal challenges to the specific guidelines used in executions and brought back the debate regarding the constitutional use of lethal injection.
Earlene Peterson opposed lee execution. Her daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law were victims of Lee his accomplice both whom tortured, killed and dumped their dead bodies in the lake.