Inmate’s attorneys seek execution delay due to pandemic

Attorneys for a federal inmate scheduled to be the first put to death in 17 years are asking a judge to delay his execution due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Attorneys for a federal inmate scheduled to be the first put to death in 17 years have asked a judge to delay his execution due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Attorneys for Daniel Lee, the first of four inmates set to be executed starting this month, asked a federal judge Thursday to delay his execution until spring 2021. Lee, convicted of killing an Arkansas family as part of a plot to establish a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest, is scheduled to be executed on July 13.

In their filing, Lee’s attorneys said the pandemic is preventing them from fulfilling their responsibilities to their client without putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus as cases surge throughout the country.

“The government’s insistence on pressing forward with his execution in the midst of this public health crisis is forcing counsel and others to assume grave, potentially fatal, health risks in order to be present at the execution or in the days leading up to it,” the filing said.

A Zen Buddhist priest, who is a spiritual adviser to another inmate set to be executed two days after Lee, has argued in a separate lawsuit the government is putting him at risk for the virus by moving forward with executions during the pandemic.