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USA brings back death penalty for fed cases

The Bread Guy

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This from the DOJ:
Attorney General William P. Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to adopt a proposed Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol—clearing the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment after a nearly two decade lapse, and bringing justice to victims of the most horrific crimes.  The Attorney General has further directed the Acting Director of the BOP, Hugh Hurwitz, to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society—children and the elderly.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General Barr said.  “Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding.  The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”


Upon the Attorney General’s direction, Acting Director Hurwitz adopted the Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol and, in accordance with 28 C.F.R. Part 26, scheduled executions for the following individuals:

•Daniel Lewis Lee, a member of a white supremacist group, murdered a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl. After robbing and shooting the victims with a stun gun, 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.  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.  Lee’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 9, 2019.

•Lezmond Mitchell 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.  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 Dec. 11, 2019.

•Wesley Ira Purkey violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond. He also was 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.  On Nov. 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 execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 13, 2019.

•Alfred Bourgeois physically and emotionally tortured, sexually molested, and then beat to death his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. 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 Jan. 13, 2020.

•Dustin Lee Honken 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. On Oct. 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 Jan. 15, 2020.

Each of these inmates has exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies, and currently no legal impediments prevent their executions, which will take place at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana.  Additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.
Statement also attached in case link doesn't work.


  • justice.gov-Federal Government to Resume Capital Punishment After Nearly Two Decade Lapse.pdf
    26.7 KB · Views: 43
Sadly there are evil people in the world and the death penalty is the ultimate punishment. It usually has been administered for certain crimes at the State level. In many cases prisoners might sit on death row 20 years or more befire their appeals have been heard. Unfortunately their victims had no appeal.
Retired AF Guy said:
Just curious why these were deemed Federal crimes vs State crimes?

Maybe the states involved did not have a death penalty?

May have involved crossing a state line.
Greasy legalist explains; https://www.nealdavislaw.com/criminal-defense-guides/federal-vs-state-offenses.html

Seems to vary based on the details of the crime and the specific charges, as there seems to be overlap in state/federal code, as well as specific federal crimes (and also varies by state). TL:DR; it depends, and US justice system is complicated mess.

Federal vs. State Crimes

Most crimes are state crimes and tried in state courts, which handle the vast majority of criminal cases. In fact, among cases filed yearly in the United States, around 30 million reside in state courts, while only about one million are in federal courts.

State crimes include numerous offenses which happen all too often, such as robbery, arson, murder, rape, theft and burglary. Federal crimes fall under fewer classes or classifications, since they must involve a national or federal interest, as in counterfeiting.

Though most crimes, such as robbery, are state crimes, occasionally robbery is a federal crime - as when a bank is robbed and its deposits are insured by a federal agency.

Provisions for such things come from the federal criminal code. It covers many criminal offenses that are customarily addressed at the state level, including violent offenses such as homicide, kidnapping and assault. Non-violent financial crimes also are included.

difference between federal and state crimes

In addition, crimes committed on federal property are considered federal crimes. Such property can include federal prisons or courthouses, as well as national parks, Native American reservations and the District of Columbia.

Federal crimes also include identity theft, using the U.S. postal system to swindle people and drug trafficking, which includes transporting illegal drugs into the U.S. or across state lines.

Interstate commerce or crossing state lines involves federal authority, particularly in regard to laws about firearms or drugs, as well as mail and wire fraud.

At the state level, criminal laws are passed by state governing bodies or can stem from a state’s constitution. At the federal level, criminal laws are passed by the U.S. Congress or stem from the Constitution.
If the victims died on Federal property that would make it a Federal crime. Killing a protected citizen such as aFederal employee. Years ago Tim McVay blue up a Federal building and got the death penalty. Not all States have the death penalty and these cases are expensive so a deal is made between the Feds and State on who will prosecute if the crime is dual eligible.

Thank you for the "Cole's notes" on the topic.

This provides us with an ability to compare some average standards.
Retired AF Guy said:
Just curious why these were deemed Federal crimes vs State crimes?

The criminal law in the US, unlike here, is not solely a federal law but each state and the federal government has their own criminal law. In the US , federal criminal law relates to those subject matters that are within the federal purview such as the Uniform Code of Military Justice or the Federal Civil Rights Statutes and many others many of which have death as a possible punishment.

each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding

Without getting wrapped up in the particulars of each individual case, the accuracy of this statement or lack thereof, has me adamantly against supporting these changes. I'd much rather one of these guilty bastards rot in a cell than an innocent man be put to death.
cld617 said:
Without getting wrapped up in the particulars of each individual case, the accuracy of this statement or lack thereof, has me adamantly against supporting these changes. I'd much rather one of these guilty bastards rot in a cell than an innocent man be put to death.

Agreed. The system is far to flawed and fallible. We know for certain that innocent people have been put to death. Added to normal human error, we have the reality that prosecutors, judges, and often senior law enforcement officials are elected and have to pander to populist will. What a horrendous system with which to entrust to power to judicially kill.

You can always let someone out of jail. You cannot resurrect an innocent person killed in error or due to malfeasance.
If discussing capital punishment in general, ( not specific to any country ) this may be a helpful source of reference material,

The Capital Punishment Debate
24 pages.
If new evidence in favor of the prisoner that would be grounds for an appeal.
tomahawk6 said:
If new evidence in favor of the prisoner that would be grounds for an appeal.
Yes, and the point being raised by several previous posters is that such an appeal would be of little value to a convict who had already been put to death.  Unless of course, you also include an Easter clause* wherein the executed can come back to life on the Monday after a long-weekend.

* Not to be confused with Santa Clause -- different myth/different expectations.  :pop:
An older article that looks at the possible rate of innocents being executed in the US.


1 in 25 according to that article.
So how do you feel about this guy?


Daniel Lee, 46, who wanted to create a white republic

Daniel Lee, a white supremacist who lived in Oklahoma, was convicted in 1999 of murdering an Arkansas gun dealer, William Mueller, as well as his wife, Nancy Mueller, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.

Mr. Lee broke into the family’s home in Tilly, Ark., in January 1996 with an accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, and together they suffocated the family before throwing them into the Illinois Bayou, according to the Justice Department. The bodies were not found until June, when a woman who was fishing discovered a shoe and a bone.

Mr. Kehoe had stepped in when Mr. Lee said he could not kill a child, The New York Times reported in an article about the murders in 1999, although Mr. Lee was convicted of three counts of murder.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Lee’s lawyer, Morris Moon, said Mr. Kehoe “was alone responsible for the death of the child in this case” and added that he believed that executing his client would be a “grave injustice.”

The case was a federal one because Mr. Lee was accused, and later convicted, of three counts of murder to aid racketeering, a federal crime. Mr. Lee is known as “Cyclops” because he lost an eye in a bar fight, according to the 1999 article. His execution has been scheduled for Dec. 9.
Which is why I favour it for 'smoking gun' cases only.
kkwd said:

A terrible human being. Does he *deserve* death? Yes. Does that bear any relevance to the suitability of the system to mete that our as a punishment? No.

It’s easy to make appeals to emotion to try to sway public policy. It happens all the time. That doesn’t mean the policy becomes suddenly sound just because enough people can be made sufficiently outraged.

Every single falsely executed person was already convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and every one has access to many avenues of appeal. Despite that some innocents have been executed, and more will be. We’re deceiving ourselves if we think there is still some higher yet standard of proof that can flawlessly deliver perfect certainty.
It's odd that people who think government can't do anything right think that same government should be able to execute other people.
I did read of one execution where some, including myself, believe the man was framed. An NYPD lieutenant who was electrocuted for murder by proxy, twice removed.

He was the only police officer ever executed in American history.

The lieutenant was one of five men executed for the murder of one small-time bookie.

If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect, we have killed a bunch of murderers. If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would much rather risk the former. This, to me, is not a tough call." John McAdams - Marquette University/Department of Political Science