Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Look Behind the Media Reports on Federal Executions

 

So the US Government put down a murderer Tuesday. A whole bunch of liberals are upset that justice was served. The man murdered an entire family, but, you should feel sorry for him for… reasons? If you’re smart (and I know you are because you’re reading on Ricochet) you don’t rely on the media to tell you why you should feel sorry for these guys. This isn’t Hollywood and these guys are not Old Yeller. They earned their right to receive what could be called the Anesthesiologist’s Overdose. How do I know? I did what the media will not do: I read the appellate opinions in these cases.

Daniel Lewis Lee was euthanized – a much nicer cleaner end than he deserved. He was a true white supremacist who killed an entire Arkansas family in pursuit of guns and money to finance a separate white supremacist state. He’s dead; I won’t waste time on him. I will focus, instead, on the next three who are slated to Dr. Kervorkian’s Special Tonic.

Here is how the Eighth Circuit described Dustin Lee Honken in the introduction to his appellate opinion:

In 1993, after being indicted on federal drug trafficking charges, Dustin Lee

Honken (Honken) and his girlfriend, Angela Johnson (Johnson), kidnaped and murdered a federal witness, the witness’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s two young daughters. Honken and Johnson murdered another potential federal witness three months later.

Gosh, doesn’t he sound like a prince among men? Honken, if you look at his profile on Murderpedia, appears to be a soft-spoken, almost baby-faced young man with a beguiling smile that makes it hard to imagine he is a killer. But Honken was good at chemistry and like the character in “Breaking Bad,” set up his own manufacturing and distribution network for methamphetamine in Iowa. The appellate opinion describes what led up to his arrest:

Honken and his best friend, Timothy Cutkomp (Cutkomp), began manufacturing methamphetamine in Arizona in 1992. Honken distributed his methamphetamine to only two dealers, Greg Nicholson (Nicholson) and Terry DeGeus (DeGeus). Both Nicholson and DeGeus were located in the Mason City, Iowa, area. Honken became acquainted with DeGeus’s then-girlfriend, Johnson, in 1993, and the two promptly began a romantic relationship. Johnson became pregnant with Honken’s child later that year.

In March 1993, law enforcement began investigating Nicholson. After officers searched Nicholson’s house, Nicholson decided to cooperate in the investigation. On March 21, 1993, officers arranged a recorded meeting between Nicholson and Honken at Nicholson’s home in Iowa, during which the two discussed methamphetamine and Nicholson paid Honken $3,000 for past deliveries. That same day, officers arrested Honken and Cutkomp.

Honken moved from Arizona to Mason City after his arrest. Honken was initially charged with state drug offenses. After Nicholson testified before a federal grand jury in April 1993, the grand jury indicted Honken for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and the state charges were dismissed in favor of federal charges. Honken notified the court he intended to plead guilty, and a plea hearing was scheduled for July 30, 1993.

Honken was released on bond. During June and July 1993, Honken and Johnson searched for Nicholson, often asking Johnson’s friend, Christi Gaubatz (Gaubatz), to babysit Johnson’s daughter while they searched. On July 7, 1993, Johnson purchased a .9 mm handgun.

On the night of July 24, 1993, Honken and Johnson again asked Gaubatz to babysit Johnson’s daughter and borrowed Gaubatz’s car so they could search for Nicholson. Honken and Johnson normally returned about midnight, but on this occasion they did not come home until around five o’clock in the morning. On July 25, 1993, Nicholson, Duncan, Kandi, and Amber suddenly disappeared.

Five days later, on July 30, 1993, Honken appeared for his plea hearing, but declined to plead guilty. Honken told his attorney he heard a rumor Nicholson had skipped town. Honken also provided his attorney with a VHS tape of Nicholson saying Honken was not guilty of the charges against him.

Around August 2, 1993, the government learned Nicholson was missing after warrants were issued for Nicholson’s arrest and officers were unsuccessful in locating Nicholson. The government continued its drug investigation against Honken, now turning its attention to Honken’s only other dealer, DeGeus. Honken told Cutkomp he was worried about DeGeus testifying against him. Honken believed DeGeus had been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.

DeGeus disappeared on November 5, 1993. The night of his disappearance, DeGeus dropped his 10-year-old daughter off at his mother’s house and told his mother he was going to meet Johnson, his former girlfriend. DeGeus said he would return shortly to pick up his daughter that evening, but DeGeus never returned.

In the winter of 1993-1994, while cleaning a bedroom closet, Gaubatz discovered a large black handgun with attached silencer in a cosmetics bag belonging to Johnson. Gaubatz called Johnson to demand Johnson remove the gun. Johnson told Gaubatz not to worry about the gun because Honken would take care of it. That winter, Honken went to Cutkomp for assistance destroying a large black pistol.

Honken and Cutkomp used a torch to cut and melt the gun into a number of unrecognizable pieces, which they discarded in ditches along a country road.

Just the fact that Honken has five murders to his credit is a distinction not many in the criminal world ever achieve, but the fact that two of them were children elevates the level of evil here to satanic. I would note his partner in crime, Angela Johnson also received the death penalty, however, a federal judge later reversed and remanded for resentencing. The US Attorney wisely decided to leave her to rot in federal prison.

Because Honken and Johnson hid the bodies, authorities had no murder to prosecute, but had Johnson in custody on the drug charges when she befriended a fellow inmate. He convinced her that if she were to provide the details of the crime, he could get another prisoner, who was already serving life, to take responsibility for the murders. Clueless Johnson, who should have known better than to trust anyone who was already in jail, bit. She provided a hand-drawn map, which the inmate turned over to authorities. They discovered the bodies in a shallow grave. Even worse that the shallow grave is the manner of death. The opinion describes that too:

Using the maps Johnson drew, officers discovered the bodies of Nicholson and the Duncan family, buried in a single hole located in a wooded area outside Mason City. Kandi and Amber each had a single bullet hole in the back of their heads. Nicholson and Duncan were bound, gagged, and shot multiple times, including once in the head. DeGeus’s body was found in a field a few miles away, face down in a shallow hole. DeGeus had been shot one or more times, and his skull was severely fragmented, requiring significant reconstruction.

Imagine being so soulless that you shoot a child in the back of the head. What kind of monster does that? You can understand Honken being outraged at his co-conspirators turning on him, but not at the children. How does a person manufacture the rage necessary to take the life of a child?

Honken has denied his responsibility for the murders and his legal team pulled out all the stops in his defense. They tried to get the maps drawn by Johnson excluded arguing, among other things, that they were not trustworthy. That’s a pretty funny stretch because the maps led police right to the place where the bodies were buried. That seems pretty trustworthy to me.

The Eighth Circuit, which in criminal law matters is pretty much a “No BS” zone, dispatched the dozen points raised by Honken and affirmed the death penalty. While other motions have been filed because the manner of death by lethal injection is supposedly inhumane (like people suffer when they get a huge dose of pentobarbital and stop breathing), the death sentence has so far not been seriously challenged.

This is the man that liberals want to save. You might ask why it is that every time there is a criminal or illegal alien that doesn’t get everything he wants from the federal government, that liberals are the first to rush to his defense. Who rushes to the defense of the victims of Honken’s murders? Democrats do not seem to care about what you want or need. But they can’t wait to rush to the aid of someone who murders five people, two of whom are very young children. You can understand how religious leaders like those in the Catholic church might oppose the death penalty. I think their objection is principled. I believe the opening of prison doors in California and New York because of virus concerns is simply another way that liberals achieve the goals of forgiving violence and crime.

Then there’s the other prince among men, Keith Nelson. Keith Nelson was a Kansas resident who kidnapped a child in Kansas, took her to Missouri, raped, tortured and killed her, and pleaded guilty to the charge. He asked a jury to decide his fate, and the jury gave him the death penalty. It was a federal death penalty because he took a Kansas resident into Missouri for the purpose of having sex with a minor, and then killed her. Nelson richly deserved his sentence.

But perhaps the funniest case – from a poetic justice standpoint – is Wesley Ira Purkey. Purkey was another sick, multiple killer. He bludgeoned an 80-year-old woman to death with a claw hammer in Kansas. While he was awaiting trial on that, and hearing his fellow convicts talk about how bad Kansas prisons were, he decided he’d do his part to avoid the overly harsh prison life of the Sunflower state in favor of Club Fed. He told state detectives about how he had gone from Kansas into Missouri, kidnapped a high school sophomore, Pamela Long, and then taken her to Kansas to rape and kill her.

This was a mistake he would soon come to regret. The appellate opinion notes:

He then told the officers that he was going to plead guilty in the Kansas case and was therefore willing to confess to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a Missouri woman, provided that he could serve his state time in a federal penitentiary. Detective Howard and Agent Tarpley informed Mr. Purkey that they could not make any promises but would take whatever he had to say to the United States Attorney. After giving an account of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of the victim (who was later identified as Ms. Long), Mr. Purkey refused to cooperate further unless he received assurances from the United States Attorney that his case would be federally prosecuted.

That afternoon, Detective Howard and Agent Tarpley met with Kurt Shernuk, an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Kansas. Although he was skeptical of Mr. Purkey, Mr. Shernuk indicated that his office might be willing to prosecute the case if Mr. Purkey fully cooperated with the investigators and provided the location of the victim’s remains and other evidence to corroborate his confession.

After meeting with Mr. Shernuk, Detective Howard and Agent Tarpley returned to the Wyandotte County Jail to speak with Mr. Purkey. They told him that Mr. Shernuk wanted a body and would require full cooperation, but they did not make Mr. Purkey any promises as to the sentence that he might receive. Mr. Purkey then led Messrs. Tarpley and Howard to the crime scene and to the place where he claimed to have discarded the victim’s undergarments and jaw bone. He told the officers that because he had taken extraordinary measures to dispose of the body, including dismembering it with a chain saw and burning the remains, the victim’s remains were not recoverable.

Yes, you read that right. The animal tortured, raped, and killed a high school sophomore, then cut her body up with a chainsaw and burned the remains so that her family could not even give her a decent burial.

Purkey got his wish about federal treatment. He was tried in federal court. But the extreme nature of his crime meant the US Attorney could seek the death penalty. Oops! Purkey changed course:

During the guilt phase of his federal trial, Mr. Purkey affirmed his statements about the killing and dismemberment of Ms. Long, but he disavowed his previous statements that he forced Ms. Long to travel with him from Missouri to his home in Kansas. Instead, he stated that Ms. Long, who he said he thought was a prostitute, voluntarily entered his truck and accompanied him to his home. He indicated that he fabricated the kidnapping aspect of the confession to ensure that his actions would be considered, and therefore prosecuted as, a federal crime. After deliberating briefly, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Kansas is a very difficult place to get the death penalty owing to a long history of Democratic leadership at the state level. No one has been executed there since 1965. This moron traded a pretty secure life sentence for a one-way trip to Terre Haute’s federal death chamber. That was smart!

The point of all of this should be clear. If you are on death row at Club Fed, you earned your place there. There isn’t any question of your guilt. There is no question about what the jury decided or the fairness of your trial. Each of these sociopathic monsters deserves the fate that awaits him.

Shed a tear for the victims, sure. But do not shed any for these agents of evil.

Published in Law
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  1. Arahant Member

    Anthony L. DeWitt: Imagine being so soulless that you shoot a child in the back of the head. What kind of monster does that?

    I would consider Daniel Lewis Lee’s method worse. Among his victims was an eight-year-old girl. What he and his partner did was to shock them with a taser until they lost consciousness, and then put plastic bags over their heads while they were still alive, and then tape the plastic bags closed so they died of asphyxiation. Then he weighted the bodies down and threw them into a swamp. None of these are nice people, but a bullet to head seems a bit quicker and less cruel. Hang ’em all!

    • #1
    • July 14, 2020, at 1:07 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Anthony L. DeWitt: Each of these sociopathic monsters deserves the fate that awaits him.

    Amen.

    • #2
    • July 14, 2020, at 1:13 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. EODmom Coolidge

    From the discussion it’s apparent that it is possible to discern the truly evil and wholly deserving of human wrath by means of capital punishment from the run of the mill scum of the earth killers you only lock up forever or perhaps exile to a wasteland forever. What I don’t get, though, is why it’s entirely OK to euthanize someone via an”dignified death” cocktail, but not OK to give the same (?) cocktail to a truly evil soulless killer, who would readily kill again just because. 

    • #3
    • July 14, 2020, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Stad Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):
    a bullet to head seems a bit quicker and less cruel.

    Cheaper too . . .

    • #4
    • July 14, 2020, at 3:09 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    a bullet to head seems a bit quicker and less cruel.

    Cheaper too . . .

    You can line them up three deep and use a .45 and, uh, okay, that may be TMI. I said nothing.

    • #5
    • July 14, 2020, at 3:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Anthony L. DeWitt Coolidge
    Anthony L. DeWitt

    EODmom (View Comment):

    From the discussion it’s apparent that it is possible to discern the truly evil and wholly deserving of human wrath by means of capital punishment from the run of the mill scum of the earth killers you only lock up forever or perhaps exile to a wasteland forever. What I don’t get, though, is why it’s entirely OK to euthanize someone via an”dignified death” cocktail, but not OK to give the same (?) cocktail to a truly evil soulless killer, who would readily kill again just because.

    I like to think we are better than they are, and that’s why we do it this way. But I understand your point.

    • #6
    • July 15, 2020, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Barfly Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Anthony L. DeWitt: Each of these sociopathic monsters deserves the fate that awaits him.

    Amen.

    Deserve’s got nothin to do with it. 

     

    • #7
    • July 15, 2020, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Barfly Member

    Regarding why the libs reliably support murderers – that’s just what they do. They betray.

    • #8
    • July 15, 2020, at 2:39 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When I was an impressionable 12 year-old, a teacher who was opposed to the death penalty told me that unless I was willing to throw the switch myself, I should not in good conscience be in favor of the death penalty.

    I thought about it for a while. And I concluded that I would, in all seriousness, be willing to be the executioner. I doubt I would lose sleep.

    The teacher thought I was a monster.

    • #9
    • July 15, 2020, at 3:48 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  10. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    If you worked as an executioner, could you carry out your job without knowing the details of the crime of the person you are executing? Or would you want to know what their heinous deeds were so that you could assure yourself that you were doing the right thing?

    As a Christian, I don’t think I would feel right about getting paid to execute people. I believe the executioner is an instrument of God’s justice, but I wouldn’t want to be that instrument.

    • #10
    • July 15, 2020, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. CJ Coolidge
    CJ

    iWe (View Comment):

    When I was an impressionable 12 year-old, a teacher who was opposed to the death penalty told me that unless I was willing to throw the switch myself, I should not in good conscience be in favor of the death penalty.

    I thought about it for a while. And I concluded that I would, in all seriousness, be willing to be the executioner. I doubt I would lose sleep.

    The teacher thought I was a monster.

    I’m curious if your teacher, like many so-called “educators,” was a big fan of Che Guevara.

    • #11
    • July 15, 2020, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    If you need an executioner, call me. I’ll do it for the cost of travel. 

    Honestly, we should just go back to firing squad. Quick, certain, and does not require special equipment. (you could rig up a remote rig to make it easier on the executioner)

    Cruel? It’s used for euthanasia with big animals, and we know how to shoot people so they die quickly.

    Unusual? Not in America, that’s for sure.

    • #12
    • July 15, 2020, at 8:45 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    • #13
    • July 16, 2020, at 12:09 AM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Cruel? It’s used for euthanasia with big animals, and we know how to shoot people so they die quickly.

    Yeah, just use whatever Vets use to put down animals.

    If it was “cruel”, the ASPCA and the animal rights nuts would have already told us so.

     

    • #14
    • July 16, 2020, at 5:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Anthony L. DeWitt Coolidge
    Anthony L. DeWitt

    iWe (View Comment):

    When I was an impressionable 12 year-old, a teacher who was opposed to the death penalty told me that unless I was willing to throw the switch myself, I should not in good conscience be in favor of the death penalty.

    I thought about it for a while. And I concluded that I would, in all seriousness, be willing to be the executioner. I doubt I would lose sleep.

    The teacher thought I was a monster.

    Spoiler alert: you are not a monster. You are rational. And she was wrong to inflict her opinion on you.

    • #15
    • July 16, 2020, at 5:27 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Michael Brehm Member

    CJ (View Comment):
    If you worked as an executioner, could you carry out your job without knowing the details of the crime of the person you are executing? Or would you want to know what their heinous deeds were so that you could assure yourself that you were doing the right thing?

    Well, it would be useful to decide whether to give the condemned one strike of the axe, or several

    • #16
    • July 16, 2020, at 6:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    When I was an impressionable 12 year-old, a teacher who was opposed to the death penalty told me that unless I was willing to throw the switch myself, I should not in good conscience be in favor of the death penalty.

    I thought about it for a while. And I concluded that I would, in all seriousness, be willing to be the executioner. I doubt I would lose sleep.

    The teacher thought I was a monster.

    I always liked Dennis Prager’s response to the challenge: he could throw the switch and then go have a nice deli sandwich with a Kosher dill pickle on the side afterward. 

    Okay, I may have made up the details, but you get the point.

    • #17
    • July 16, 2020, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Old Bathos Moderator

    As weird as it sounds, death penalty opponents might argue that the sheer monstrosity of a crime is evidence of limited capacity or emotional disorder. A sane criminal would only dispatch victims as needed to silence a witness or effect some other rationally conceived criminal purpose. In contrast, sadism and gratuitous infliction of pain are likely indicative of childhood abuse or trauma, therefore, the death penalty cannot be lawfully applied because of the existence of diminished capacity. The sicker the crime, the more the death penalty should not be applied according to this view. New trials and overturned verdicts have been ordered for a failure to make just such an argument about childhood abuse at trial or sentencing.

    My sole reservation about the death penalty is that I have very limited confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to get it right and ensure that the right guy is getting the needle. After the Innocence Project used DNA evidence to free a number of long-time death row inmates in Illinois, George Will made the wry remark that when opponents of the death penalty are talking to law-and-order conservatives (represent, my peeps!) they should frame the issue by saying that the death penalty is just another badly run government program. 

    I find “cruel and unusual” lines of attack on lethal injection to be specious and annoying along with much of what is advanced for abolishing the death penalty. And in general, I hate the fact that because we often rely on under-equipped public defenders to handle capital cases, the grounds for appeal become seemingly endless. A killer with a weak trial defense winds up with half the faculty of Harvard Law on appeal. Maybe we should frontload those legal resources–if the death penalty is at issue, there should be resources provided for a quality defense so there are fewer mistakes and fewer post-trial issues –and quicker executions.

    • #18
    • July 16, 2020, at 11:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. GrannyDude Member

    I have three objections to the death penalty. None have anything to do with sympathy for the condemned.

    1.) Executions brutalize the people who must perform them, and the culture in which they are performed. Whatever you know of the person in the chair (or on the gurney), he is a defenseless human being, and you are killing him. If you’re the executioner, the medic, or the chaplain, you are participating in the killing of a human being and even if you imagine yourself being able to do this once… you don’t know unless you’ve actually had to do it. I don’t believe it is reasonable to ask prison personnel to participate in the deliberate, organized killing of a person. (Incidentally, it is pretty tough to keep a homicidal person alive and imprisoned, too—there’s no good solution to this problem, only trade-offs.) And yes, I connect this with abortion, which also brutalizes everyone involved in the killing. Though of course, in the case of abortion, the victim is definitely innocent, and so abortion is worse.

    2.) The best possible outcome (among a generally pretty dismal lot of outcomes) for the surviving family and friends of the victim is that the murderer realizes what he has done and feels genuine remorse. Yes, this is unlikely. But it isn’t actually impossible. Unless the murderer is dead. In which case (as far as we know) he is beyond the reach of genuine guilt and atonement.

    3.) Sometimes…we get it wrong.

    • #19
    • July 16, 2020, at 3:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. kedavis Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    When I was an impressionable 12 year-old, a teacher who was opposed to the death penalty told me that unless I was willing to throw the switch myself, I should not in good conscience be in favor of the death penalty.

    I thought about it for a while. And I concluded that I would, in all seriousness, be willing to be the executioner. I doubt I would lose sleep.

    The teacher thought I was a monster.

    Right. YOU’RE the monster.

    Geeze.

    • #20
    • July 16, 2020, at 6:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes