IOWA CITY, Iowa — A federal judge has denied an Iowa drug kingpin's requests to delay his execution, which is scheduled for Friday.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand wrote Tuesday that he would not intervene to delay Dustin Honken's execution date due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said the Bureau of Prisons was in the best position to weigh the health risks against the benefits of carrying out the execution.
Strand also denied Honken's motion to declare his execution void due to an alleged procedural error by the government. He affirmed the executive branch's power to set the date for executions.
Honken, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The government executed a federal inmate, Daniel Lewis Lee, Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. A second execution was scheduled for Wednesday, but a judge halted the execution because the man, Wesley Ira Purkey, is suffering from dementia.
Lee, convicted of killing an Arkansas family in a 1990s plot to build a whites-only nation, was the first of four condemned men scheduled to die in July and August despite the pandemic raging inside and outside prisons.
Honken is facing execution for the 1993 slayings of five people in the Mason City area. Prosecutors say Honken killed them in an attempt to thwart an investigation into his methamphetamine trafficking business.
Also Tuesday, a federal judge in Indiana denied a request by Honken's spiritual adviser to put the execution on hold. The adviser, a Catholic priest, had asked to delay the execution until after the pandemic recedes.