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D.C. Judge blocks federal execution for second time this week

Judge Tanya Chutkan stalled the execution of convicted killer Daniel Lewis Lee on Monday, and is now taking a similar action on behalf of Wesley Ira Purkey, citing his dementia

July 15, 2020 8:42am

Updated: July 15, 2020 8:59am

A judge in Washington, D.C. granted a preliminary injunction Wednesday morning to Wesley Ira Purkey, a man with dementia and schizophrenia, who is scheduled to be executed by the state later today. 

Purkey was sentenced to death for the 1998 kidnapping and murder of a 16-year-old girl. 

"The speed with which the government seeks to carry out these executions, and the Supreme Court’s prioritization of that pace over additional legal process, makes it considerably more likely that injunctions may issue at the last minute, despite the efforts of Plaintiffs' counsel to raise, and the court to adjudicate, the claims in a timely fashion," wrote Judge Tanya Chutkan on Wednesday.

Purkey's attorneys are arguing that his dementia hinders him from understanding why he is set to be executed. Purkey was set to die by lethal injection. 

The Justice Department has appealed Chutkan's order, which could reach the Supreme Court later today.

This is the second time this week that Chutkan has prevented the administration to move forward with resuming federal executions. She first ordered an injunction on Monday against the death sentence set to be imposed against Daniel Lewis Lee. The Supreme Court quickly overruled her order and Lee was executed on Tuesday morning.

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