The United States federal government on Tuesday carried out the first federal execution in 17 years.

The Supreme Court allowed for the resumption of the federal death penalty. Daniel Lewis Lee, a convicted murder of an Arkansas family and a white supremacist, was killed by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1999, Lee and his accomplice were convicted of murdering a family of three, including an eight-year-old child.

“I didn’t do it,” Lee said in his last words. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer … You’re killing an innocent man.”

Victims’ family objected to Lee’s execution. Earlene Peterson, who lost her daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law to the murder, told CNN she did not want Lee to be put to death.

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“It’s an easy way out,” Peterson told The New York Times. “He should have to live through this. Like I did.”

Baker Kurrus, an attorney for the victims’ family, told CNN Tuesday that “the government prevented them from being there and family did everything they could to be there.” The family filed a lawsuit seeking to delay the execution because they could not travel to the execution site due to the danger of the pandemic.

“The federal government has put this family in the untenable position of choosing between their right to witness Danny Lee’s execution and their own health and safety,” Kurrus said.

Attorney General William Barr approved of the court ruling and said Lee “finally faced the justice he deserved.”

“The American people have made the considered choice to permit capital punishment for the most egregious federal crimes, and justice was done today in implementing the sentence for Lee’s horrific offenses,” Barr said in a statement.

“The government has been trying to plough forward with these executions despite many unanswered questions about the legality of its new execution protocol,” said Shawn Nolan, one of the attorneys for the men facing federal execution.


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