One reporter, witness to two executions, haunting last words

Running Specialty Group


Associated Press

July 18, 2020, 4:28 PM 0:30 1:34   EmbedClosed Caption Settings U.S. carries out first federal execution in 17 years

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Daniel Lewis Lee, a condemned man and convicted murderer, was asked if he wanted to make a final statement from the execution chamber, with its institutional green-tiled walls and plate-glass interior window, moments before he too would die.

He did. He leaned his head up and we locked eyes.

“You’re killing an innocent man,” Lee said, looking directly at me.

Those were his last words. He said them to me.

Lee’s execution, one of two that I witnessed this past week at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, played out slowly, after painstaking hours of final, futile legal appeals, before prison officials administered a lethal injection and the federal government carried out capital punishment for the first time in almost two decades. A third execution came later in the week.

Before the lethal injection for Lee, there had been a lot of waiting. Prison officials searched me extensively each time I arrived, then sent me back to my hotel during the legal maneuvering, only to call me back to the maximum-security facility.

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