Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 13 other state legal officers to lift a court-ordered hold on federal executions.
Death brings “closure” to victims’ families, she said in a news release. “It is time to let these families rest knowing justice has been served in their loved ones’ cases. ”
Her news release didn’t mention that the hold affects a case from Arkansas in which members of the victims’ family oppose the execution.
This is the case Daniel Lewis Lee, sentenced to death in the slayings of a Pope County couple and their young daughter. Family members have asked that Lee not be killed and both the prosecutor and judge in the case have expressed second-thoughts about the sentence. One factor is that the acknowledged ringleader of the crime, Chevy Kehoe, got a life sentence while Lee is scheduled to die. His lawyer is not asking for his release, only a commutation of his sentence to life in prison.
Attorneys for the inmates whose executions have been put on hold filed this petition with the Supreme Court last night.
That petition cited the Lee case and commentators have noted the Justice Department’s failure to acknowledge opposition from members of the victims’ family.
The lawyers for the death row inmates in this case are accusing Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, of misrepresentations to the Supreme Court.
— Cristian Farias (@cristianafarias) December 5, 2019
UPDATE: A federal judge in Indiana has ordered a halt to Lee’s execution. Said his attorney:
“Today, a federal court in Indiana granted Mr. Lee a stay of executions to allow him a reasonable opportunity to determine the legality of his sentence. 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.
Counsel for Mr. Lee are grateful that the Court recognized the unfairness of Mr. Lee’s death sentence and look forward to proving his claims in this Court.”
Note: Rutledge, who knew better, didn’t disclose this either