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‘Claw-hammer killer’ Wesley Ira Purkey is second federal execution this week as Supreme Court rejects ‘dementia’ plea

"CLAW-hammer killer" Wesley Ira Purkey was the second federal execution this week, after the Supreme Court rejected his lawyers' mental illness plea.

The vote to allow to put Purkey, 68 – who suffered from advancing Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and delusions – to death was 5-4 as the court's four liberal members dissented.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that “proceeding with Purkey’s execution now, despite the grave questions and factual findings regarding his mental competency, casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries.”

Fellow liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined her.

But the execution went ahead in Indiana on Thursday as Purkey was killed by lethal injection.

A lower court had put an emergency hold on the execution for one hour as it weighed issues in the case.

This delayed the execution slated for Wednesday evening at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute.

Purkey has been on death row for nearly 20 years after he was convicted of the rape and murder of Jennifer Long, 16, in Missouri on November 3, 2003.

He was convicted of using a claw hammer to batter Mary Ruth Bales to death, an 80-year-old who had polio and used a cane to get around in a state court case.

Attorneys for the Kansas City convict argued that he has dementia, he wouldn't understand the punishment, and asked the government to set a new date if the execution didn't go ahead yesterday.

He was granted a preliminary injunction by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, which delayed his death.

In her ruling, Chutkan said “at least one of plaintiffs’ claims has a likelihood of success on the merits, and that absent a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm."

But the Department of Justice appealed Chutkan's order in Terre Haute, according to The Indy Star.

Government lawyers said the execution could go ahead on Thursday if the Supreme Court lifted the injunctions.

The issue of Purkey’s deteriorating mental health arose in the run-up to his 2003 trial.

After the verdict, jurors had to decide whether he should be put to death in the killing Long in Kansas City, Missouri.

Prosecutors said he raped, stabbed, murdered, and dismembered her with a chainsaw, before burning her remains and dumped the ashes 200 miles away in a septic pond in Kansas.

Proceeding with Purkey’s execution now ... casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

He was separately convicted and sentenced to life for the beating death of 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales, of Kansas City who suffered from polio.

Purkey was sentenced to death – but mental health groups rallied against in execution before Chutkan's ruling.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America penned an open letter on July 9 to Attorney General William Barr calling on him to commute Purkey's execution.

The news comes after Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to schedule the executions of four federal death-row inmates last month.

White supremacist and child killer Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, was executed at the Terre Haute federal prison on Tuesday after his eleventh hour legal bids failed – marking the first federal execution in nearly 20 years.

Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people, is due to be executed on Friday, while kidnapper and child killer Keith Dwayne Nelson will be executed on August 28.

One-eyed white supremacist killer Daniel Lee Lewis dead as Supreme Court rules for first federal execution in 17 years

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