Terre Haute prison, where the first federal executions since 2003 were carried out
Washington (AFP) - A drug dealer convicted of murdering five people, including two young girls, was executed by lethal injection on Friday, the third federal inmate to be put to death in the United States this week.
Dustin Lee Honken, 52, of Britt, Iowa, was pronounced dead at 4:36 pm (2036 GMT) at Terre Haute prison in the midwest state of Indiana, the Justice Department said.
Honken was convicted in Iowa in 2004 of the 1993 murders of two drug dealers who became government informants and were going to testify about his methamphetamine operation.
He was also convicted of murdering the girlfriend of one of the two men and her daughters, aged 10 and six.
"There was no reason for the government to kill him, in haste or at all," Shawn Nolan, Honken's attorney, said in a statement.
"The man they killed today was a human being, who could have spent the rest of his days helping others and further redeeming himself."
Honken recited a poem by the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called "Heaven-Haven" as his final words.
Honken was the third federal inmate executed at the Terre Haute prison this week after the Justice Department announced last month that it would resume federal executions.
A fourth federal execution is scheduled for August 28 when Keith Dwayne Nelson is to be put to death for the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, a former white supremacist convicted of the 1996 murders of a family of three, was executed on Tuesday.
Wesley Ira Purkey, 68, was put to death on Thursday for the 1998 rape, murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl.
All three men filed last-minute appeals on various grounds in a bid to prevent their executions but they were rejected by lower courts or the Supreme Court.
The death penalty was reinstated on the federal level in 1988 but had been used on only three occasions before this week's executions -- the last time in 2003.
President Donald Trump, who faces a tough reelection battle in November, has called for stepped-up use of capital punishment, especially for drug traffickers and killers of police officers.
Only a handful of US states, mainly in the conservative South, still actively carry out executions. In 2019, 22 people were put to death.
Most crimes are tried under state laws, but federal courts handle some of the most serious offenses, including terror attacks, hate crimes and racketeering cases.
Among the most notable recent federal executions was that of Timothy McVeigh, who was put to death by lethal injection in 2001 for the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma that killed 168 people.