lethal injection

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.

Capital punishment is on the decline in the United States, with only 13 new death sentences and seven executions so far this year.

But the U.S. Justice Department is moving in the other direction. Authorities are preparing the death chamber in Terre Haute, Ind., for the first federal executions in 17 years, starting Monday.

Death row inmates, their spiritual advisers and even one set of victims' relatives are moving to the courts to try to stop or delay the process. They're using a novel argument: the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET

The spiritual adviser to a federal inmate facing death this month has sued the U.S. attorney general and prison officials seeking a delay to his execution.

The Rev. Seigen Hartkemeyer, 68, is a Buddhist priest with lung troubles. He's worried that traveling to the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Ind., could put him in the middle of a COVID-19 "super-spreader" environment.

Updated at 11:31 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the federal death penalty method, allowing the executions of four men scheduled in the coming weeks to go forward. They would be the first uses of the death penalty in federal cases since 2003.

The court's order was posted Monday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor indicated that they would have considered the case.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland
Jay LaPrete / AP

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is officially joining the effort to repeal the death penalty, saying he regrets the way he handled capital punishment while he was in office. 

State Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) during a House session on April 11, 2018.
Ohio House

A new group called Ohio Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is releasing a list of prominent legislators, politicians and citizens who are calling for an end to the practice. Former Gov. Bob Taft and former Rep. Pat Tiberi have both signed onto the list.

Gov. Mike DeWine, center, speaks between Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, left, and Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder during the Ohio State of the State address at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Paul Vernon / Associated Press

As Ohio prison officials work on a way to continue carrying out executions, House and Senate leaders are considering having deeper discussions on the future of the death penalty.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks before signing his first executive action alongside his wife Fran, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Cedarville, Ohio. The former U.S. senator took his oath in a private midnight ceremony at his Cedarville home.
John Minchillo / AP

Gov. Mike DeWine has issued three reprieves of execution, as the future of Ohio’s death penalty looks more uncertain.

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

The man who created Ohio’s 1981 death penalty law says it’s likely that the state’s last execution ever has already happened.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder
Paul Vernon / AP

The Republican leader of the Ohio House says lawmakers are in a quandary when it comes to the death penalty. 

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien giving closing arguments in the case of Quentin Smith, who killed two Westerville Police officers, on Oct. 31, 2019.
Fred Squillante / Pool/Columbus Dispatch

Quentin Smith, convicted of murdering two Westerville Police officers in February 2018, narrowly avoided a death sentence this week.

"The Quentin Smith case was, even for today, a classic death penalty case. Killing a police officer in Ohio is a death penalty specification, killing two or more people is," says Andrew Welsh-Huggins.

Quentin Smith was found guilty in the deaths of Westerville Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli on Friday, November 1, 2019.
Fred Squillante / Pool/Columbus Dispatch

Jurors head back to court Monday for the sentencing phase of the trial for Quentin Smith, the man convicted of murdering two Westerville police officers.

Gov. DeWine Delays Two More Executions

Oct 31, 2019
lethal injection chair
Wikipedia Commons

Gov. Mike DeWine has delayed two more executions, citing Ohio’s continuing struggles to find supplies of lethal injection drugs.

Ohio Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine reviews his prepared comments ahead of a primary election night event, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.
Bryan Woolston / Associated Press

For the first time in three years, Ohio likely won’t see an execution in 2019.

Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking"
Scott Langley

This weekend, Journey Of Hope From Violence To Healing is hosting a conference in Ohio on the death penalty.

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