Executions

Lisa Marie Montgomery said she was interested in purchasing a puppy. But once the Kansas woman arrived at Bobbie Jo Stinnett's Missouri home in 2004, she attacked the pregnant 23-year-old, using a rope to strangle her until she lost consciousness.

With a kitchen knife, Montgomery cut the 8-month-old fetus out of Stinnett's womb, taking it to raise as her own. Stinnett was found later by her mother, dead in a pool of blood.

President-elect Joe Biden opposes the death penalty and has said he will work to end its use, but as President Trump's administration accelerates the pace of federal executions in the closing days of his presidency, activists and progressive lawmakers are feeling more urgency to push Biden to act immediately upon taking office.

Brandon Bernard, convicted for his involvement in the brutal murder of two youth ministers in 1999, was executed Thursday evening after failed eleventh-hour appeals from criminal justice advocates and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West, to spare his life.

He was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. from a lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

For the ninth time in six months, the Trump administration is preparing to put a federal prisoner to death.

Brandon Bernard, 40, is due to be executed Thursday evening at the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana, as punishment for the murder of a young couple in Texas in 1999. The Justice Department plans another federal execution later this month, with three more scheduled in January.

The Justice Department is proceeding with plans for more federal executions in the closing days of President Trump's administration, including two scheduled shortly before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Attorney General William Barr announced the moves, connected with what he called "staggeringly brutal murders," in a statement late Friday.

The Justice Department said the directives amounted to a continuation of its policy since last year when it relaunched federal executions after an informal moratorium that had been in place for 17 years.

Dr. Joel Zivot stared at the autopsy reports. The language was dry and clinical, in stark contrast to the weight of what they contained — detailed, graphic accounts of the bodies of inmates executed by lethal injection in Georgia.

The Justice Department has executed Dustin Lee Honken in Terre Haute, Ind., the third federal inmate put to death by the government this week.

Honken, 52, was sentenced to die in October 2005 after being convicted of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder — among them two small children — during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise.

A coroner pronounced him dead by lethal injection at 4:36 p.m. ET Friday.

At the time of his death, Honken had served more than 22 years in an Indiana prison.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

The United States has executed Wesley Purkey in its second federal execution this week after a 17-year hiatus. Purkey, 68, was executed via lethal injection on Thursday morning in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Supreme Court early Thursday denied appeals to stay Purkey's execution, clearing the way for it to proceed.

Purkey, who was on death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, was convicted of the 1998 kidnapping and killing of 16-year-old Jennifer Long.

Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET

The Justice Department has put to death Daniel Lee, 47, marking the first federal execution since 2003, after a chaotic overnight series of court rulings.

Lee had been convicted of killing three people, including a child, as part of a broader racketeering scheme to fund a white supremacist cause. He had waited more than 20 years on federal death row in Terre Haute, Ind.

Updated at 12:30 pm ET

A federal judge in Washington has blocked federal executions scheduled for this week, citing concerns that the lethal injection protocol involved is "very likely to cause extreme pain and needless suffering."

Judge Tanya Chutkan said the last-minute ruling only hours before executions were set to resume for the first time in 17 years was "unfortunate," but she blamed the Justice Department for racing ahead before legal challenges had been fully aired.

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