PICTURED: Four of the first five men to be killed by the federal government since 2003: Murderers whose victims all include children will be executed in months as their attorneys plead for leniency
Federal executions are set to resume for the first time since 2003 5 sentences about lawyer.
Five inmates are now scheduled for death chamber in December and January
All five death-row inmates are convicted killers whose victims include children
Daniel Lewis Lee, 46, murdered a family of three, including eight-year-old girl
Lezmond Charles Mitchell, 37, killed a 63-year-old grandmother and girl, nine
Wesley Ira Purkey, 67, violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl
Alfred Bourgeois, 55, tortured and killed his two-year-old daughter
Dustin Lee Honken, 51, shot and killed five people including two girls, ten and six
Published: 15:56 BST, 26 July 2019 | Updated: 19:03 BST, 26 July 2019
These are the five federal prisoners who are set to be executed within months following a surprise announcement by the Justice Department on Thursday that the federal government will resume capital punishment for the first time since 2003.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 46; Lezmond Charles Mitchell, 37; Wesley Ira Purkey, 67; Alfred Bourgeois, 55; and Dustin Lee Honken, 51, are scheduled to be executed in December or January.
All are convicted murderers whose victims include children, and in some cases the children were horribly tortured and sexually abused.
The condemned men are being held on federal death row at Terre Haute USP in Indiana, and the Justice Department says all five have exhausted their appeals and post-conviction remedies.
However, attorneys for some of the men have already spoken out, pleading for leniency based on the traumatic childhoods of the murderers and alleged legal lapses at trial - though so far none have argued actual innocence.
Why federal executions had paused
On Thursday, the Justice Department said it would resume federal executions for the first time since 2003.
Since a Supreme Court decision in 1976 lifted a four-year moratorium on the death penalty, the federal government has only executed three men: two in 2001 and one in 2003.
In 2014, an Oklahoma execution was problematic enough that then-President Barack Obama mulled a moratorium on the federal death penalty.
Though a moratorium never materialized, the Democratic party’s national platform endorsed one two years later, and no federal executions had been scheduled since.
In contrast, President Donald Trump has repeatedly endorsed capital punishment for serious crimes.
On Thursday, the Justice Department said that the federal execution protocol had been amended to replace the old three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital.
'Since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in over 200 executions, and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld the use of pentobarbital in executions as consistent with the Eighth Amendment,' DOJ said in a statement.
There are currently 62 inmates on federal death row, including the five men slated for the death chamber in December and January.
Daniel Lewis Lee
Lee, a 46-year-old member of the white supremacist group Aryan Peoples' Republic, participated in the murder of a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Lee's attorney Morris Moon said that his case 'exemplifies many of the serious flaws in the federal death penalty system.'
In 1999, Lee and the ringleader of the Aryan People's Republic, Chevie Kehoe, dressed in police raid clothing and lay in wait for gun dealer William Mueller in his Arkansas home, according to court documents.
When the Muellers returned, Lee and Kehoe overpowered and incapacitated Mueller and his wife Nancy.
They then interrogated the couple's young daughter, Sarah Powell, about where they could find cash, guns, and munitions.
The home invaders found and took roughly $50,000 in cash, guns and ammunition.
After robbing and torturing the victims with a stun gun, prosecutors say Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois Bayou.
However, Lee's attorney insisted that 'Kehoe was alone responsible for the death of the child in this case.'
'The prosecution witnesses testified that Mr Lee steadfastly refused to harm the child,' the lawyer said.
On May 4, 1999, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and he was sentenced to death.
Who is a lawyer
Kehoe, however, was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences - a disparity that Lee's attorney says illustrates the 'grave injustice' of the federal death penalty.
Lee's attorney says that during the guilt phase of the trial, the government presented a hair they claimed was microscopically similar to Lee's as part of the evidence - though DNA later showed that the hair was not from Lee.
The lawyer also argues that the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R), a psychological assessment that was presented to the jury during the penalty phase, is scientifically flawed.
'Mr. Lee's jury also never learned critical information about his exceptionally traumatic background,' the attorney said.
'Experts have described the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; neglect; violence; and chronic trauma he suffered throughout his infancy, childhood and adolescence, as 'devastating' and 'simply extraordinary,' he continued.
Lee's execution is scheduled to occur on December 9, 2019.
Full statement of Daniel Lewis Lee's attorney on pending execution
Statement on July 25 from Morris Moon, attorney for Daniel Lewis Lee, regarding his scheduled execution:
'The federal government today announced its plan to execute Danny Lee, even though the trial judge, the lead prosecutor, and members of the victims' family all oppose executing him and believe a life sentence is appropriate. Moreover, given the demonstrated unreliability of the evidence used both to convict Mr. Lee and to sentence him to death, and the fact that his indisputably more culpable co-defendant received a life sentence, executing him would be a grave injustice.
'Danny Lee's case exemplifies many of the serious flaws in the federal death penalty system. At the guilt phase, the government relied on hair evidence that has now been proven by DNA testing not to come from Mr. Lee. And at sentencing, the Government 'proved' Mr. Lee's purported future dangerousness by relying on scientific evidence that is now known to be completely unreliable, rejected even by the expert who testified at Mr. Lee's trial.
'It is critical to note that Mr. Kehoe was alone responsible for the death of the child in this case, Sarah Powell. The prosecution witnesses testified that Mr Lee steadfastly refused to harm the child. If the Government is attempting as some have said to punish where children were victims, all they have done here is highlighted what is arbitrary and unjust about the federal death penalty.
'Mr. Lee's jury also never learned critical information about his exceptionally traumatic background. Experts have described the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; neglect; violence; and chronic trauma he suffered throughout his infancy, childhood and adolescence, as 'devastating' and 'simply extraordinary.'
'Given the problems that undermine the fairness and reliability of Danny Lee's conviction and death sentence, the Government should not move forward with his execution.'
Lezmond Charles Mitchell
Mitchell, 37, stabbed to death a 63-year-old grandmother and forced her nine-year-old granddaughter to sit beside her lifeless body for a 30 to 40-mile drive.
Mitchell then slit the girl's throat twice, crushed her head with 20-pound rocks, and severed and buried both victims' heads and hands.
In October 2001, Mitchell, and accomplices decided to rob a trading post on the Arizona side of the Navajo Indian reservation, and set out looking for a vehicle to steal in order to use in the robbery, according to court documents.
Grandmother Alyce Slim and her nine year-old granddaughter were traveling to see a medicine woman on the reservation when they apparently picked up Mitchell as a hitchhiker.
When Slim stopped near Sawmill, Arizona, to let Mitchell and an accomplice out of the car, the men began stabbing her a total of 33 times as she tried to fight off the attack.
Once dead, her body was pulled onto the rear seat. The granddaughter was put next to her. Mitchell drove the truck into the mountains with the girl beside her grandmother's body.
There, Slim's body was dragged out. The girl was ordered out of the truck and told by Mitchell 'to lay down and die,' according to court testimony.
Mitchell cut the girl's throat twice, but she didn't die. He and the accomplice then dropped large rocks on her head, which killed her. Twenty-pound rocks containing blood tied to the girl were found near the dismembered bodies.
Three days later, Mitchell and two other men robbed the Red Rock Trading Post at gunpoint, driving off in Slim's truck, which they later burned.
On May 8, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona found Mitchell guilty of numerous offenses, including first degree murder, felony murder, and carjacking resulting in murder, and he was sentenced to death.
Mitchell's execution is scheduled to occur on December 11, 2019.
Wesley Ira Purkey
Purkey, 67, violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl's body in a septic pond.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Purkey's attorney Rebecca Woodman said that his 'life story is marked by a series of adults who not only failed to protect him, but inflicted the worst abuses imaginable.'
'Yet, the jury who was tasked with deciding whether to extend mercy to Mr. Purkey never learned most of these facts,' Woodman said.
On January 22, 1998, Purkey drove from his home in Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri for a job interview with a plumbing company, according to Purkey's confession to the FBI.
After the interview, Purkey smoked half a rock of crack cocaine and began driving down the street when he passed 16-year-old Jennifer Long, who was walking on the sidewalk.
He pulled over to ask Jennifer if she wanted to 'party,' then took her to a liquor store to buy her gin and orange juice.
After he bought her the gin, Jennifer he needed to go back to his home in Kansas. She asked to be let out of his truck.
Instead, Purkey reached into the glove box, grabbed a boning knife, and placed it under his thigh, menacing the girl and making it clear she couldn't leave.
When they arrived at his home in Lansing, about 30 miles away, Purkey took Jennifer into a room in his basement.
Holding a knife, he ordered her to take her clothes off and lie down on the floor, where he raped her.
After Purkey finished the vile sexual assault, Jennifer told him that she had been a virgin.
He confessed that he then grew fearful, and as Jennifer tried to escape his house, he grabbed her leg and forced her to the ground.
The two briefly struggled before Purkey became enraged and repeatedly stabbed Jennifer in the chest, neck, and face with the boning knife, eventually breaking its blade inside her body.
When he confessed, he told FBI Agent Dirk Tarpley, 'it's not like in the movies. They don't die right away. It took her a little time to die.'
Purkey dismembered Jennifer's body with a chain saw and tried to burn the body parts in his fireplace while his wife and stepchildren were away at work and school.
He was also convicted in state court for using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio and walked with a cane.
Nine months after raping and murdering Jennifer Long, Purkey was employed by a plumbing company when he met Mary Ruth Bales, 80, on a service call at her home during the evening of October 26, 1998.
Purkey told Bales that his employer charged a great deal for the particular job she needed, and he offered to return later to do the work under the table if she would pay him $70 up front, according to court documents.
She paid, and Purkey left, using Bales's money to hire a prostitute and buy several rocks of crack cocaine the next morning.
Purkey and the prostitute retired to a motel room for several hours, where they had sex and smoked the crack cocaine before driving together to Bales's house.
Telling the prostitute that someone who lived in the home owed him money, Purkey went inside with a toolbox from his truck and bludgeoned Bales to death in her bedroom with a claw hammer.
Investigators determined that Bales died from blunt force trauma resulting from repeated strikes to her skull with the claw side of the hammer.
On November 5, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping a child resulting in the child's death, and he was sentenced to death.
Purkey's attorney argues that a 'litany of legal violations took place in Mr. Purkey's case.'
'Court appointed counsel hired a friend to conduct the case investigation after the friend was fired from his job as an investigator at the local public defender for serious misconduct and failing to carry out his duties,' said Woodman, the lawyer.
'A juror who disclosed in writing her experience of child sexual assault before being selected to sit on Mr. Purkey's jury was not questioned at all about whether she could be impartial given her experience,' she continued.
Purkey's execution is scheduled to occur on December 13, 2019.
Full statement of Purkey's attorney on his scheduled execution
Statement on July 25 from Rebecca Woodman, attorney for Wesley Ira Purkey, on his scheduled execution:
'This statement is made in full recognition of the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Purkey to Jennifer Long, Mary Bales, their families and loved ones, as Mr. Purkey himself has acknowledged throughout his case.
'Today the Department of Justice announced its intention to resume executions in cases where those sentenced to death were convicted of crimes against children and the elderly; victims it views as most vulnerable. Attorney General Barr claims these defendants received full and fair proceedings, which is untrue with respect to Mr. Purkey.
'Mr. Purkey's life story is marked by a series of adults who not only failed to protect him, but inflicted the worst abuses imaginable. He was raised by violent, alcoholic family members who brutalized him physically, emotionally, and sexually from the youngest age. He suffered abuse from a Catholic priest, perhaps one of the last people who could have protected him.
'Still a child, Mr. Purkey turned to drugs in an effort to escape these relentless torments. By the age of 18, Mr. Purkey also suffered serious injuries in two severe car accidents, including one in which he was hit by an 18-wheeler truck and remained unconscious for nearly two weeks.
'Yet, the jury who was tasked with deciding whether to extend mercy to Mr. Purkey never learned most of these facts. Unable to afford an attorney, he was given counsel who has more clients sentenced to death in federal court than any other defense lawyer in America. The substandard representation permeated Mr. Purkey's trial with errors and meant that his jury never had a full picture of his deep and sincere remorse or the personal circumstances that led to these tragic events.
'A litany of legal violations took place in Mr. Purkey's case. Court appointed counsel hired a friend to conduct the case investigation after the friend was fired from his job as an investigator at the local public defender for serious misconduct and failing to carry out his duties. A juror who disclosed in writing her experience of child sexual assault before being selected to sit on Mr. Purkey's jury was not questioned at all about whether she could be impartial given her experience.
'When determining his sentence, Mr. Purkey's jury failed to follow the legal instructions meant to protect the rights of a defendant, leaving blank part of the verdict form that would allow courts to understand the reasons for sentencing him to death. Without that information it is impossible to know whether the jury followed the law in determining Mr. Purkey's sentence. The trial court recognized this error, and offered to send the jury back into deliberations, but Mr. Purkey's own lawyer declined and accepted the faulty verdict. To date his is the only federal death penalty jury ever to have failed in this way.
'Mr. Purkey is now age 67 and suffers from a multitude of mental and physical disabilities, including dementia.
'The DOJ seeks to execute Mr. Purkey now, despite the myriad legal violations in his case and despite his advancing age and declining health. The timing of this decision raises serious questions about the application of capital punishment under this administration.'
Bourgeois, 55, physically and emotionally tortured, sexually molested, and then beat to death his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
In May of 2002, a Texas court ordered Bourgeois to pay Katrina Harrison $160 per month in child support for the young daughter whom a paternity test had recently proven he was the father to.
The court also granted Bourgeois's request for visitation rights with the girl for the ensuing seven weeks, and he took custody of her that afternoon.
The girl briefly stayed with Bourgeois, his wife, and their two children at their home in Louisiana - but the family and the two-year-old girl soon departed with Bourgeois on his long-haul trucking route.
Bourgeois systematically abused and tortured his two-year-old daughter in several ways, and became fixated on her toilet training, according to court documents.
Her training potty became the girl's primary seat during the day, and Bourgeois even forced her to sleep on it when they were traveling at night.
He punched her in the face with enough force to give her black eyes. He whipped her with an electrical cord, and he beat her with a belt so hard that it broke.
The court heard that Bourgeois beat her in the head with a plastic baseball bat so many times that her head 'was swollen like a football.'
There was also evidence of sexual abuse. A family friend pointed out blood in the girl's diaper, which a physician determined was from external irritation of the vagina, though he could not specifically determine whether abuse took place. After her death, a rectal swab of the girl was positive for semen.
On July 26, 2002, the Bourgeois family stopped by their home in Louisiana, where Bourgeois found a court order directing him to remit $519.99 in child support to his ex-wife.
The family continued on Bourgeois's trucking route, arriving the next morning at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station to deliver a shipment, where he became enraged at the girl for tipping over her potty seat.
Bourgeois beat the girl to death in the cab of his truck, and then tried to claim that she had died in a fall from the truck.
On March 16, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found Bourgeois guilty of multiple offenses, including murder, and he was sentenced to death.
Bourgeois' execution is scheduled to occur on January 13, 2020.
Dustin Lee Honken
Honken, 51, shot and killed five people—two men who planned to testify against him and a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-year-old daughters.
In 1993, Honken was operating a methamphetamine lab in Arizona when one of the two dealers he used for distribution, Greg Nicholson, was pinched by police and turned informant, according to court documents.
Honken was arrested on state drug charges, but made bond. Once free, he began a desperate hunt for Nicholson, who went into hiding by staying with Lori Duncan, a single mother raising her two girls, 10-year-old Kandi and six-year-old Amber.
On July 25, 1993, Nicholson, Duncan, Kandi, and Amber suddenly disappeared.
Five days later, Honken appeared for his plea hearing, but declined to plead guilty.
Honken told his attorney he heard a rumor Nicholson had skipped town. Honken also provided his attorney with a VHS tape of Nicholson saying Honken was not guilty of the charges against him.
The government turned its attention to the other possible witness against Honken: his other dealer, Terry DeGeus.
DeGeus disappeared on November 5, 1993.
After another informant wore a wire and caught Honken referencing eliminating the witnesses against him, Honken's bail was revoked.
While incarcerated, Honken admitted to other inmates he killed witnesses to avoid earlier charges. Honken went into great detail about the murders.
Using prison informants, investigators discovered the bodies of Nicholson and the Duncan family, buried in a single hole located in a wooded area outside Mason City.
Kandi and Amber each had a single bullet hole in the back of their heads.
Nicholson and Duncan were bound, gagged, and shot multiple times, including once in the head.
DeGeus's body was found in a field a few miles away, face down in a shallow hole with a severely fragmented skull having been shot one or more times.
On October 14, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was sentenced to death.
Honken's execution is scheduled to occur on January 15, 2020.
The Justice Department says additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.