Iowa meth kingpin is 3rd executed by US government this week

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FILE – 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. The Justice Department is plowing ahead with its plan to resume federal executions next week for the first time in more than 15 years, despite the coronavirus pandemic raging both inside and outside prisons and stagnating national support for the death penalty. Honken, who killed five people in Iowa, including two children, is slated to die next week. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette via AP, File)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The U.S. government on Friday put to death an Iowa chemistry student-turned-meth kingpin convicted of killing five people, the third execution by the federal government in a week.

Dustin Honken, who prosecutors said killed key witnesses to stop them from testifying in his drugs case, received a lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Honken — known for his verbosity at trial and for making a long statement of his innocence at his sentencing — spoke only briefly, neither addressing victims’ family members nor saying he was sorry. He recited a short poem, and his final words were a prayer: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me.”

Once the execution began, it took approximately 30 minutes before Honken was pronounced dead. Time of death was recorded at 4:36 p.m. by the Vigo County Coroner.

Two others were also put to death during the week after a hiatus of nearly 20 years, including Wesley Purkey. His lawyers contended he had dementia and didn’t know why he was being executed.

Honken’s was the first of the three executions without a last minute appeal. Both previous executions were delayed 16 hours while the courts ruled on appeals.

Sister Donoghue of the Sisters of Providence served as Honken’s minister of record and provided him with spiritual direction. She said he made peace with his fate.

Donoghue met Honken 10 years ago, and over the years, the two spoke once month to talk.

Honken was scheduled to be executed at 4 p.m. Friday at the federal prison in Terre Haute. While Donoghue said Honken made peace with his fate, he had one major concern–those he was leaving behind.

“His biggest concern about being executed was he was going to hurt his family more,” Donoghue said. “He’s got a mother living, a brother and a sister and two children. He was more worried about their reactions than he was about himself. I can’t believe how peaceful he has been.”

The family of victim Terry DeGeus issued a written statement following the execution.

“The reason for us being present today was not to watch a man die,” they said. “It was to show love, support, and respect to my daughter’s father, Terry. That we loved him until the end and still do. It was the least we could do.”

The family of Lori, Kandace and Amber Duncan also issued a statement:

27 years ago, two beautiful girls and their mother was taken from us by a violent criminal and his girlfriend.

“For 27 years, we have grieved for them while their killers lived on.

“Today the little girls, Kandace and Amber, would be 37 and 33. They never had the chance to grow up and share in the joys and sorrows of life. Their mother never got to see them having a first dance, first date or walk down the aisle at their wedding. There was no family reunions. No visits to grandparents house, no overnights at cousins. Their lives were snuffed out.

“However their killer has lived the years since then with a bed and meals provided for him.

“Today we gather to witness the execution of Dustin Honken their murderer. It is the day we thought would never come.

“Finally justice is being done. It will bring a sense of closure but we will continue to live with their loss. However this is a step toward healing of broken hearts and shattered lives.

“We regret that so many members of our family has passed on and were never able to see this day.”

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