Daniel Lewis Lee, a convicted killer, was executed Tuesday morning in the first federal execution in 17 years after the Supreme Court issued an overnight ruling that it could go ahead.
Lee was pronounced dead by the coroner at 8:07 a.m. ET in Terrre Haute, Indiana. His last words were
“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 Supreme Court cleared the way for the resumption of the federal death penalty in an unsigned order released after 2 a.m. ET Tuesday. The court wiped away a lower court order temporarily blocking the execution of Lee in a 5-4 vote.
According to CNN,
Lee, a one-time white supremacist who killed a family of three, was scheduled to be executed Monday. A federal judge blocked the planned execution of Lee, and three others, citing ongoing challenges to the federal government’s lethal injection protocol.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday refused the Justice Department’s request to stay the injunction. The Justice Department had appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
“Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reiterated in one dissent something he has said before: he thinks it’s time for the court to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty.
“The resumption of federal executions promises to provide examples that illustrate the difficulties of administering the death penalty consistent with the Constitution,” he said. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Ginsburg, wrote separately to criticize the court’s “accelerated decision making “
“The court forever deprives respondents of their ability to press a constitutional challenge to their lethal injections,” she said.
Earlene Peterson — whose daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law were tortured, killed and dumped in a lake by Lee and an accomplice — has opposed Lee’s execution, telling CNN last year that she did not want it done in her name.
Just after midnight Trump tweeted, in a possible reference to this execution,