Justice Department Executes 3rd Federal Prisoner In A Week

Jul 17, 2020
Originally published on July 17, 2020 7:04 pm

The Justice Department has executed Dustin Lee Honken in Terre Haute, Ind., the third federal inmate put to death by the government this week.

Honken, 52, was sentenced to die in October 2005 after being convicted of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder — among them two small children — during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise.

A coroner pronounced him dead by lethal injection at 4:36 p.m. ET Friday.

At the time of his death, Honken had served more than 22 years in an Indiana prison.

For his last words, he turned to the writings of a Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, reciting lines from the poem Heaven-Haven.

Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec said ending Honken's life was the culmination of "just punishment" being carried out.

"Nearly three decades after Honken coldly ended the lives of five people, including two young girls, all in an effort to protect himself and his criminal enterprise, he has finally faced justice," Kupec said in a statement.

She described Honken as a meth kingpin, who in 1993, "kidnapped, fatally shot, and buried Lori Duncan, a single, working mother, Duncan's two young daughters — 10-year-old Kandi and 6-year-old Amber — and Greg Nicholson, a government informant who testified against Honken on federal drug trafficking charges."

Honken also murdered Terry DeGeus, another possible witness against him, by beating him with a bat and shooting him.

While he did not offer an apology to his victims' families, his attorney, Shawn Nolan, said the former drug ring leader had repented for his crimes.

"He recognized and repented for the crimes he had committed, and spent his time in prison atoning for them," Nolan said in a statement.

He added: "There was no reason for the government to kill him, in haste or at all. In any case, they failed. The Dustin Honken they wanted to kill is long gone. The man they killed today was a human being, who could have spent the rest of his days helping others and further redeeming himself. May he rest in peace."

Early Friday morning, a federal appeals court denied Honken's last-ditch request to block the execution.

Attorney General William Barr relaunched executions this week for the first time since 2003. He has scheduled another execution in late August.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.