Appeals court rules first federal execution in 17 years can proceed

Appeals court rules first federal execution in 17 years can proceed
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The first federal execution in more than a decade is expected to go forward as planned on Monday after an appeals court overturned a lower court's ruling halting the execution over coronavirus concerns.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of proceeding with Daniel Lewis Lee's execution despite concerns from his victims' family about coronavirus at the facility where the execution will take place. A U.S. District Court had ruled in the family's favor on Friday.

On Sunday, the appeals court found that concerns from those family members about possibly contracting the disease “do not outweigh the public interest in finally carrying out the lawfully imposed sentence in this case," according to the AP.

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Lee, 47, would be the first federal prisoner to be executed in nearly 20 years and is convicted of the 1996 murders of a gun dealer as well as his wife and 8-year-old daughter. The family of his victims previously requested in a statement that the government not appeal Friday's ruling putting the execution on hold so that elderly members of the family could attend safely.

“The family is hopeful that the federal government will support them by not appealing today’s ruling, a reversal of which would put them back in the untenable position of choosing between attending the execution at great risk to their health and safety, or forgoing this event they have long wanted to be present for,” said Baker Kurrus, an attorney for the victims’ family.

Kurrus added to the AP on Sunday that the family would appeal to the Supreme Court ahead of Lee's planned execution Monday.

“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,” said Kurrus. “Because the Government has scheduled the execution in the midst of a raging pandemic, these three women would have to put their lives at risk to travel cross-country at this time.”