Judge stops federal government from carrying out executions set to begin in December at Terre Haute prison

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (CNN/WEHT) – A judge has stopped the federal government from carrying out four executions scheduled to begin in December at the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The case surrounds U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s controversial decision to resume federal executions.

In July, Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of five inmates. He also wanted the federal government to adopt a new protocol for executions.

Barr called for federal prisons to replace a three-drug lethal injection with a single drug.

Death row prisoners challenged that as unconstitutional.

A judge blocked the executions – saying the prisoners would be executed under a procedure that may be unlawful.

The federal executions would have been the first conducted in more than 16 years.

The first person scheduled to be executed at the Terre Haute federal prison was Danny Lee. The Oklahoma-native was convicted in the 1996 deaths of an Arkansas family as part of a plot to set up a whites-only nation in the pacific northwest.


Executions on the federal level have long been rare.

In fact, the government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988.

The most recent federal execution happened in 2003.

Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young female soldier at an Air Force base in Texas.


A Tri-State man is currently awaiting his execution at Terre Haute.

Kentucky-native Brandon Bashman was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of Alice Donovan in 2002.

Basham and cellmate Chadrick Fulks escaped the Hopkins County Kentucky detention center and went on a 17 day – multi-state crime spree.

Both men were also sentenced to life in prison for abducting and killing a 19-year-old Marshall University student in 2002 during that spree.

Their first crime was kidnapping a man from Hanson, Kentucky named James Hawkins.

Shortly after they escaped, Basham and Fulks asked if Hawkins would give them a ride.

Hawkins agreed – Basham and Fulks pulled out a knife and forced him to drive north of Evansville, where they duct-taped him to a tree and stole his truck. Hawkins survived the ordeal.


The high-profile execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh took place at the federal prison in Terre haute.

He was convicted of setting off explosives in front of the federal building.

168 people were killed, including several children.

More than 500 others were injured.

McVeigh was put to death by lethal injection.

McVeigh is the only terrorist to be executed by the U.S. government.

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(This story was originally published on November 21, 2019)

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