Federal executions continue Wednesday, Friday

Federal Executions

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy File)

This Oct. 31, 1998, photo shows Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman and was sentenced to death. (Jim Barcus/The Kansas City Star via AP)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The first federal execution in nearly two decades was carried out Tuesday in Terre Haute, Ind., and the Bureau of Prisons said two more will be carried out this week as scheduled.

The next inmate scheduled to be executed is Wesley Ira Purkey.

Purkey was convicted in November of 2003 for the 1998 killing of 16-year-old Jennifer Long after picking her up in Kansas City, Missouri.

Purkey raped Long, stabbed her repeatedly and used a chainsaw to cut her body into pieces. He burned her remains in a fireplace and then dumped her ashes 200 miles away in a septic pond in Clearwater, southwest of Wichita.

He was also convicted of using a claw hammer to kill an 80-year-old Kansas woman, Mary Ruth Bales, who suffered from polio.

In this Oct. 11, 2005, file photo, Dustin Lee Honken is led by US Marshals into the Federal Courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, prior to his sentencing. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette via AP, File)

A spiritual advisor to Purkey earlier this month sued to stop his execution due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dale Hartkemeyer, who goes by the religious name Seigen, argued that he would be putting his life at risk if the federal government proceeds as scheduled on July 15, because of his prior medical conditions including respiratory issues.

Legal experts have also said the 68-year-old Purkey, who suffers from dementia, could avoid the death penalty due to his mental state.

A third execution is scheduled for Friday for Dustin Lee Honken.

He was convicted of shooting and killing five people–two men who planned to testify against him and a single, working mother and her 10-year-old and 6-year-old daughters.

An attorney for Honken, Shawn Nolan, said Honken’s trial and sentencing proceeding were “plagued by misconduct and the ineffectiveness of counsel” and said he was been denied a full and fair review of the alleged defects in the case. Nolan described Honken as a “deeply remorseful and devout Catholic and loving father of two children.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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