The U.S. government carried out the first federal execution in nearly two decades on Tuesday.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, died by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I didn’t do it,” Lee said just before he was executed, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer. … You’re killing an innocent man.”
Lee was a member of a white supremacist group who murdered a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl, according to the Justice Department. He robbed and shot the family, covered and sealed their heads with plastic bags, weighed them down with rocks, and threw them into a bayou. He was convicted by a jury more than 20 years ago.
Hours earlier, the Supreme Court ruled that Lee could be executed even after a lower court issued a ruling to stop it.
The Supreme Court, in their 5-4 ruling, said Lee and the other three death row inmates who sued to stop their executions “have not established that they are likely to succeed” in their challenge, which focused on challenges to the federal government’s lethal injection protocol.
Lee’s execution came after Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons in June to schedule the executions of four federal death row inmates convicted of murdering children. Barr announced new guidelines last summer for resuming capital punishment under federal law following a hiatus dating back to 2003.
Wesley Ira Purkey, Dustin Lee Honken, and Keith Dwayne Nelson are the other convicted murderers who are scheduled for executions later in July and August.
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