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Facing Execution, Inmate Comments on His 'Sanitized Murder'

Wesley Ira Purkey was 2nd US inmate executed this week
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2020 10:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Wesley Ira Purkey was pronounced dead by lethal injection Thursday morning—America's second execution this week after a 17-year hiatus, the Tribune-Star reports. A 5-4 Supreme Court decision in the wee hours allowed the lethal injection to proceed in Terre Haute, Ind., despite concerns over Purkey's mental competency. Purkey was found guilty of raping and killing 16-year-old Jennifer Long before dismembering and burning her body, and killing an 80-year-old woman with a claw hammer. "I deeply regret the pain and suffering I caused Jennifer's family. I'm deeply sorry," Purkey said before the execution, a spiritual advisor close by. "I deeply regret the pain I've caused to my own daughter, who I love so very much. This sanitized murder really does not serve no purpose whatsoever."

At that, a Bureau of Prisons official allowed the proceeding to continue, and Purkey lay back with his eyes open. He soon struggled to breathe, but his chest kept rising and falling for a few minutes, until he became still at 8:04am. The execution chamber's shades were closed 15 minutes later. "It's been a long time coming," said the victim's father, William Long, who was there with loved ones. "He needed to take his last breath. He took my daughter's last breath." A US judge who temporarily barred the execution said Purkey suffered from schizophrenia, progressive dementia, and severe mental illness, per CNN. Purkey's attorneys tried to get him a competency hearing right up to the execution, saying "he no longer has a rational understanding of why the government plans to execute him." (Read about the first federal execution this week.)

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