Dec 5 (Reuters) - A convicted murderer set to become the first federal inmate to be executed in 16 years was granted a stay of execution on Thursday by a judge in Indiana.
Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist convicted in Arkansas of murdering a family of three, was granted the stay by U.S. District Judge James Patrick Hanlon.
Lee's execution had been set for Monday, but a separate ruling by a judge in Washington last month put his execution and that of three other federal inmates on hold.
The inmates and their supporters have challenged the legality of the government's lethal injection protocol.
The U.S. Department of Justice this week asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Washington judge's injunction delaying the executions while the lawsuits unfold.
Hanlon's decision granting Lee a stay of execution is separate from the ruling on lethal injections.
"The judge found a significant possibility that the government was aware of, and failed to disclose, evidence undermining a key basis for his death sentence, a sentence which the victims' family, the trial judge and the lead trial prosecutor vehemently oppose," Lee's attorney, Morris Moon, said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced in July plans to resume executions of people sentenced to death in federal cases.
Barr said at the time his department owed it to crime victims and their families to carry out sentences imposed under the U.S. criminal justice system.
Most executions have been carried out by states, although an increasing number of them have stopped using the death penalty.
The last federal execution took place in 2003. Since then, protracted litigation over the drugs historically used in lethal injection executions prevented the government from continuing the practice. (Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)