“We tracked down a broad array of those connected to the event, to present a three-dimensional account of the first federal execution in 17 years.”
That’s how writers Keri Blakiner and Maurice Chammah describe their efforts, as published on July 24, 2020, by The Marshall Project in partnership with Slate Magazine. Their entire article is entitled “Witnesses to the Execution, an oral history of the first federal execution under Donald Trump, as told by victims’ relatives, prison staff, and others.“
It’s a powerful piece, beginning with the reality that while the federal government had executed only 3 men in the past 50 years, things changed in July 2020 when 3 federal executions took place within one week’s time. The first of these July 2020 federal executions was that of convicted murderer Daniel Lewis Lee. Mr. Lee was convicted for the deaths of William Mueller, Nancy Mueller, and Sarah Powell, the 8-year-old daughter of Nancy Mueller.
He died from lethal injection on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at 8:07 am. His co-defendant Chevie Kehoe was sentenced to life behind bars, not the death penalty.
Reporters witnessing the execution, as well as the lengthy events leading up to it, give their side of things. Events that included protests by groups on both sides of the Death Penalty argument. Also, delays while last-minute legal filings were being decided, including those at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Family members of the victims give their take. Attorneys, too. Some witnessed the execution, some did not.
Prisoners at the Terre Haute facility explain what happened within the institution as Lee’s execution date approached. (Consider one prisoner’s description of a prison administrator giving instructions for everyone to prepare for lockdown in advance of “the festivities.“)
The Bureau of Prisons’ emailed statement is included. So is a statement issued by Attorney General William Barr.
Ribboning through all these perspectives are the impacts of COVID-19 on the entire process as well as the implications of the federal go-ahead on using the lethal injection despite some concerns that they may have done so without proper legal authority, given the procedural / appellate process that was arguably still in play.
It’s a must read.