Wesley Purkey Federal Execution

Wesley Purkey execution photos

Wesley Purkey was executed by the Federal Government for the kidnapping and murder of sixteen year old Jennifer Long in Kansas City. According to court documents Wesley Purkey would kidnap the sixteen year old girl (picture on the right above) would be murdered, dismembered and set on fire. Wesley Purkey would beat to death an elderly woman with a hammer. Purkey would be executed on July 16, 2020 by lethal injection

Wesley Purkey More News

In its second execution this week following a 17-year pause, the U.S. government on Thursday executed Wesley Purkey, a Kansas man who admitted to killing a Kansas City teenager in 1998.

Purkey, 68, was put to death at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. His attorneys had argued he was mentally unfit for execution because he suffered from dementia.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied his application to stay the execution hours before he was put to death.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution ruling in a 5-4 decision. The four liberal justices dissented.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that “proceeding with Purkey’s execution now, despite the grave questions and factual findings regarding his mental competency, casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries.” She was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

In 2003, Purkey was convicted in the kidnapping and killing of 16-year-old Jennifer Long in Kansas City. Purkey had dismembered her, burned the body and dumped it in a septic pond.

He was also convicted in Wyandotte County of murdering Mary Ruth Bales, 80, of Kansas City, Kansas. She was killed with a hammer.

Purkey expressed remorse in his final statement.

“I deeply regret the pain and suffering I caused to Jennifer’s family,” he said. “I am deeply sorry. I deeply regret the pain I caused to my daughter, who I love so very much. This sanitized murder really does not serve no purpose whatsoever.”

His time of death was 8:19 a.m. EDT.

Following Purkey’s execution, Jennifer’s father, William Long, told reporters that he will never have closure because his daughter is gone.

“We took care of today what we needed to take care of,” Long said, according to a video from the Indianapolis Star. “It’s’ been a long time coming. He needed to take his last breath. He took my daughter’s last breath.”

On Wednesday, a federal judge had issued a preliminary injunction that challenged Purkey’s mental competency to be executed, as he suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, schizophrenia and brain damage. Purkey, his attorneys have said, did not understand why the government wanted to put him to death.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Purkey’s attorney said they recently learned the government appeared to have had “scientific confirmation in their possession of significant structural abnormalities” in Purkey’s brain that were “consistent with cognitive impairment such as vascular dementia or other conditions.”

In a post on Twitter, Sister Helen Prejean, a death penalty opponent, said each government attorney involved in “this egregious prosecutorial misconduct should be sanctioned.”

Cassandra Stubbs, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Capital Punishment Project, released a statement Thursday saying Purkey’s execution “marks a truly dark period for our country.”

“After a rushed and truncated review, the courts abandoned the constitutional prohibition on executing people who lack rational understanding of the reason for their execution in order to allow the government to proceed with the shameful execution of Wes Purkey, despite his pending competency appeal,” Stubbs wrote.

“There was no reason for this administration to restart federal executions now — after a nearly two-decade hiatus, during the worst public health crisis of our lifetime — except to distract from its many failings, particularly its failure to keep people safe during this pandemic,” Stubbs said.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, also noted that Purkey was executed hours after the legal warrant for his execution expired.

He said the federal government’s decision to proceed with administering a lethal injection to Purkey hours after the most recent attempt to stay his execution was struck down was “extremely disturbing.”

According to federal regulations, if an execution date passes, then the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons will set a new date as soon as the stay is lifted. But this should be done at least seven days before the new execution date, Dunham said.

“To say to somebody who is in the execution chamber, ‘good morning, we’re going to execute you now,’ is not acceptable legal notice,” he said, adding that due process requires Purkey and his attorneys be given time to respond.

“It’s behavior we haven’t seen before from any administration, Republican or Democratic,” Dunham added.

In many states, when a death warrant expires, the prisoner goes back to his cell and the witnesses go home, he said. Then the process of selecting a new date and selecting witnesses begins again.

Last month, the U.S. Justice Department set the execution dates for Purkey and three other federal death row inmates, the first to be carried out by the federal government in nearly 20 years.

An Aug. 28 execution date has been set for Keith D. Nelson, who kidnapped, raped and killed a 10-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, girl in 1999.

Daniel Lewis Lee, the first man executed this week, also saw the path cleared for his execution by a 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the liberals dissenting as in Purkey’s case.

On Tuesday, Lee was executed by lethal injection. He had been convicted in Arkansas of killing a family of three.

The execution date for the remaining death row inmate, Dustin Lee Honken, has been set for Friday in Terre Haute. Honken was convicted of killing five people in Iowa, including two children.


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