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After months of President Trump calling for the return of capital punishment in America, the commander-in-chief got his wish — at least in theory.
Attorney General William Barr ended the moratorium on the federal death penalty Thursday morning, complete with a list of five convicted criminals who he wants the Bureau of Prisons to schedule executions for immediately. The federal government hasn’t put someone to death since 2003.
“Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding,” Barr said in a statement. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
But it’s unclear how the bureau will circumvent the nationwide shortage of lethal injection drugs. Even states that have continued to execute convicts have had to resort to alternative execution methods and drugs, which has lead to botched executions in some cases and many states to declare moratoriums on the death penalty or abolish its use entirely.
Here are the five men the Trump administration ordered put to death and what they did.
Daniel Lewis Lee
Lee is a white supremacist who murdered a Little Rock, Arkansas family of three in 1996.
As part of his scheme to steal a large shipment of guns and cash from the family for the Aryan Peoples’ Resistance, Lee shot 53-year-old Bill Mueller and his wife 28-year-old Nancy Mueller, and her 8-year-old daughter Sarah Powell with a stun gun. He then drowned them in the Illinois Bayou.
A jury found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering back in 1999. In 2018, Lee filed a 71-page appeal to have him removed from death row according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Although the appeal is still on-going, his execution was scheduled for Dec. 9 of this year.
In 2001, Mitchell stabbed a 63-year-old grandmother to death and forced her 9-year-old granddaughter to sit next to her corpse for an over 30-mile drive. Mitchell then killed the young girl, buried the remains, and burned their clothes.
In 2003, a jury found Mitchell guilty of numerous offenses, including first-degree murder. He was scheduled for execution Dec. 11 of this year.
Wesley Ira Purkey
Purkey was put on death row for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Long in Kansas City in 1998. According to the Department of Justice, Purkey then burned Long’s body before dumping her remains in a septic pond.
Purkey was also convicted in Kansas state court for beating an 80-year-old woman to death with a walking cane.
In 2003, a jury found him guilty of kidnapping and death of the teenager and scheduled for execution on Dec. 13 of this year.
Bourgeois was found guilty of sexually molesting, torturing, and beating his 2-year-old daughter to death in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2002.
In 2004, a jury placed him on death row. His execution was scheduled for Jan. 13, 2020.
Dustin Lee Honken
In 1993, Honken and his girlfriend Angela Johnson shot and killed five people in Iowa: 10-year-old Kandace Duncan and 6-year-old Amber Duncan, their mother Angela Johnson and her boyfriend Greg Nicholson, and Terry DeGeus.
Honken was then running a drug ring in Arizona and killed the five victims after finding out DeGeus and Nicholson were helping with a federal investigation into the illicit enterprise.
In 2004, a jury found Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder. Honken’s execution was scheduled for January 15, 2020.
Honken’s girlfriend Angela Johnson was also charged with the slaying of DeGeus in 1993 and was one of two women on death row until 2012, when a federal judge vacated the death sentence. She’s now serving life in prison.
Cover image: Attorney General William Barr speaks to reporters after touring the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution Monday, July 8, 2019, in Edgefield, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)