U.S. federal judge blocks federal executions, community leaders react


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– A U.S. federal judge blocked all four executions scheduled this summer, citing issues with current execution methods.

Community leaders came together Monday morning to hold a press conference to speak out against the executions. They said they still have faith in the country’s judicial system.

“I think the stay, it’s another judge that’s recognizing ‘Hey, there are a lot of issues in these cases. There are legitimate issues in these cases and because the government has rushed through these in a pandemic, the courts have not been able to look through them, to really look at these claims. We haven’t executed anyone in 17 years. There’s no reason when the penalty is death to rush through it,” said Ashley Kincaid Eve, an Indiana attorney.

Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey, Dustin Honken and Keith Nelson were all set to be executed by lethal injection.

Those against the issue also protested at the intersection of Springhill Drive and U.S. Highway 41.

Abe Bonowitz, Co-director of Death Penalty Action, said the executions affect all those involved.

“Somebody asked me about my stress… it’s not stressful for me I have no stake in this besides standing in opposition to it. But you’ve got the prisoner and his family as well as the victim’s family, who in this case don’t want the execution. Then you’ve got everybody involved including the lawyers on both sides,” he said.

Sister Paula Damiano of the Sisters of Providence said there is no reason to be violent especially during a pandemic.

“When there has been so much sickness and so much death, I think sometimes we might be hardened to it. The numbers are numbers and we forget that each number represents a person and their family. It’s no different than these men who are in prison. It represents a human being with a family,” Damiano said.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, no decision has been made on whether or not the stay will be lifted.

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