Keith Dwayne Nelson executed, 5th federal inmate to die this year; issues no final statement

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Keith Dwayne Nelson was executed Aug. 28 at the Federal Correctional Complex, 21 years after he abducted, raped and murdered a 10-year-old girl. It was the fifth execution of 2020 conducted at the facility, which had not put an inmate to death since 2003.

Nelson kidnapped Pamela Butler on Oct. 12, 1999 while she was rollerblading in Kansas City, and took her to Missouri where he raped her and strangled her to death with a wire. He had previously suggested that he planned find a female to kidnap, torture, rape and kill because he expected to go back to prison anyway.

Pamela’s mother, Cherri West, spoke following the execution saying she feels at peace and that she feels her daughter is now at rest.

Sister Barbara Battista of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, a group that opposes the death penalty, was inside the death chamber during his execution at his request.

The execution proceeded after a higher court tossed a ruling on Thursday that would have required the government to get a prescription for the drug used to kill him.

Questions about whether the drug pentobarbital causes pain prior to death had been a focus of appeals for Nelson, 45, the second inmate executed this week after the Trump administration’s resumption of federal executions this summer after a 17-year hiatus.

A lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered at 4:21 p.m. and Nelson was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m.

Nelson declined a final statement. He had delivered comments strewn with profanity at his sentencing.

Outside the federal prison in Terre Haute, people from as far as Utah and Alabama gathered Friday to protest the death penalty.

Despite Nelson’s brutal crime, protesters argued that the sentence should not be carried out.

“It’s unnecessary,” Abraham Bonowitz, director of Death Penalty Action said of the death penalty. “We can be safe from dangerous offenders and hold them accountable without executions, and that’s what we do in the vast majority of cases.”

Holding up signs with messages such as “Stop State Killing, Stop State Violence” and “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” the protesters said they were standing together in prayer for Nelson, Pamela Butler and everyone involved in Friday’s execution.

One protester, Chris Brown, said his father was executed in Alabama in 2003.

“Going through that myself, the whole thing is very meaningful to me both in understanding everything that’s broken about this system and understanding the ripple effect that it has–the way it impacts other families, the way it impacts people that are a part of the system,” he said.

But for Pamela’s family, the execution came none to soon.

“Finally, it’s taken long enough,” Stacy Mangels, a family friend, told sister station FOX4. “It’s been a very long 21 years for her family. We need justice for her, and it’s so close.”

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