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Supreme Court clears the way for second federal execution

Demonstrators outside of the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., on Wednesday Associated Press/Photo by Michael Conroy

Supreme Court clears the way for second federal execution

The high court early Thursday morning ruled 5-4 to proceed with the execution of Wesley Ira Purkey, 68, overturning a federal judge’s ruling that her court needed to evaluate a claim that Purkey is mentally unfit. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Wednesday blocked Purkey’s execution scheduled for Wednesday night at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Purkey was convicted in 2003 of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl and killing an 80-year-old woman.

How recent is this claim of mental fitness? Chutkan noted that Purkey’s mental health has been in question since his trial. His lawyers said he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t know why he’s on death row. Chutkan previously blocked several scheduled executions over concerns about the Justice Department’s new lethal injection protocol.

Dig deeper: Read my report from Tuesday about the litigation surrounding Daniel Lewis Lee’s execution.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

Seth Johnson Seth is a correspondent for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a journalism student at Bob Jones University. Seth resides in Indianapolis, Ind.

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