Chief Justice Jane Magnus-Stinson of the Southern Indiana District halted execution Friday, but was canceled despite a correctional officer at USP Terre Haute, Indiana, who tested positive for Covid-19 was confirmed on Sunday.
Earlene Branch Peterson, 81, whose daughter Nancy Mueller and granddaughter Sarah Powell were killed by Lee and Chevie Kehoe in 1996, fears that the execution could expose her to unnecessary risk.
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She had previously urged President Donald Trump to grant Lee leniency and have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment as his accomplice.
On May 4, 1999, a jury of the United States District Court for the eastern district of Arkansas convicted Lee of numerous offenses, including three counts of racketeering murder, and he was sentenced to death.
On January 11, 1996, after stealing and shooting the victims – who also included Bill Mueller – with a stun gun, Lee covered his head with plastic bags, sealed the bags with tape, weighed down each victim with stones and threw the family. of three in the bayou of illinois, the court heard.
Peterson said her 28-year-old daughter was scheduled to go to an Oklahoma gun show with her husband, 56-year-old gun dealer Bill, on the day of their murder.
“It was as if they had just disappeared, to disappear. We started looking for them, it was pretty awful, ”said Ms. Peterson in a video last year.
The bodies of the three victims – who had been found by Lee and Kehoe at their home in Searcy County, Arkansas – were discovered five months after their disappearance.
Baker Kurrus, a lawyer with Earlene Branch Peterson and her daughter and granddaughter Kimma Gurel and Monica Veillette, said the family had been placed in an “untenable position”.
“The federal government has placed this family in an untenable position of choosing between their right to assist in the execution of Danny Lee and their own health and safety,” she said.
“Because the government has scheduled execution in the midst of a raging pandemic, these three women should be putting their lives at risk while traveling across the country right now.
“They will now appeal the decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States to seek cancellation.
“My clients hope that the Supreme Court and the federal government will respect their right to be present at the execution and to delay it until the trip is safe enough to make it possible. ”
Ms. Peterson previously said that Lee’s execution does not honor her daughter, but “spoils her name.”
“She doesn’t want it and I don’t want it.” This is not how it should be. It is not the God that I serve, “she said, struggling against her tears.
Lee’s attorney Ruth Friedman said last month that his client was found guilty of “misappropriation of science and false evidence” and refuted claims by the United States Department of Justice that he is a white supremacist.
“The government has described Mr. Lee as a white supremacist and a killer of children. It is not true either, “she continued.
“He has long since given up the skinhead groups he joined in his youth, and the government has now radically redefined his case against Mr. Lee. ”
According to Ms. Peterson, Lee’s lawyers argued in court that Kehoe had told Lee to kill Sarah, but he had refused, saying “I don’t kill children,” which Kehoe would have said “I do.” Before killing the eight-Ages.