U.S. Supreme Court allows second federal execution in 17 years to proceed

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the second federal execution this week and in 17 years to take place, overturning orders from a lower court after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) challenged them.

The court's decision allows the DOJ to resume its plans to execute Wesley Purkey despite the objections of his lawyers that he has dementia and no longer understands his punishment.

The Justice Department had originally planned to execute Purkey at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) on Wednesday. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and the DOJ did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment on when they are planning to carry out the execution.

Purkey, 68, was convicted in 2003 in Missouri of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl before dumping her dismembered and burned remains in a septic pond.

It was the second time this week that the Supreme Court has overturned a lower court decision to block executions.

A lower court injunction, issued on Monday ahead of the scheduled execution of another convicted child murderer, Daniel Lee, was overturned by the highest court at about 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Tuesday. Lee was executed a few hours later, the first federal execution in 17 years.

Early on Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington issued two injunctions, with one of them preventing the federal government from carrying out all scheduled executions.

The Supreme Court's decision blocked both those injunctions, allowing all the planned executions to proceed.

Two other men convicted of murdering children - Dustin Honken and Keith Nelson - are set to be executed on Friday and Aug. 28, respectively.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich)

07/16/2020 12:11

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