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Judge halts 1st federal execution in 17 years, citing COVID-19 concerns

Daniel Lee was convicted in Arkansas of the 1996 killings of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Oct. 31 1997, file photo, Daniel Lewis Lee waits for his arraignment hearing for murder in the Pope County Detention Center in Russellville, Ark. On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, family members of the victims of Lee, who is scheduled to be put to death next week, asked a federal judge to delay his execution, saying the coronavirus pandemic puts them at risk if they travel to attend it. (Dan Pierce/The Courier via AP, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal judge in Indiana is halting the first federal execution in 17 years, citing concerns over the coronavirus. 

Daniel Lee had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on Monday. But Chief District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in Indiana ruled Friday that the execution would be put on hold because the family of the victims wanted to attend but were afraid of traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The injunction delays the execution until there is no longer such an emergency. 

The 47-year-old Lee, of Yukon, Oklahoma, was convicted in Arkansas of the 1996 killings of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife, Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell of Russellville.

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