Media witness: Honken used time before execution for himself

first_imgDate: 07/17/2020 08:03 PMBC-US–Federal Execution, 12th Ld-Writethru/1091Eds: UPDATES: With AP Photos. EDITS: Tightens. Links additional photos NOTE CONTENTS: Includes graphic details of execution.Iowa meth kingpin is 3rd executed by US government this weekMICHAEL TARMAssociated PressTERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) – The U.S. government on Friday put to death an Iowa chemistry student-turned-meth kingpin convicted of killing five people, capping a week in which the Trump administration restored federal executions after a 17-year hiatus.Dustin Honken, 52, who prosecutors said killed key witnesses to stop them from testifying in his drugs case, received a lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Two others were also put to death during the week after a hiatus of nearly 20 years, including Wesley Purkey. His lawyers contended he had dementia and didn’t know why he was being executed.The first in the spate federal executions happened Tuesday, when Daniel Lewis Lee was put to death for killing a family in the 1990s as part of a plot to build a whites-only nation. Lee’s execution, like Purkey’s, went ahead only after the U.S. Supreme Court gave it a green light in a 5-4 decision hours before.Honken, who had been on death row since 2005, was pronounced dead at 4:36 p.m. The inmate – known for his verbosity at hearings and for a rambling statement declaring his innocence at sentencing – spoke only briefly, neither addressing victims’ family members nor saying he was sorry. His last words were, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me.”A Catholic priest, Honken‘s spiritual adviser, stood near him inside the death chamber. Honken spoke on his back, strapped to a gurney under a pale-green sheet. He didn’t look toward witnesses behind a glass barrier, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the ceiling.Honken‘s lawyer, Shawn Nolan, said his client was “redeemed” and had repented for his crimes.“There was no reason for the government to kill him, in haste or at all,” Nolan said. “The man they killed today … could have spent the rest of his days helping others and further redeeming himself.”In a statement, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said “just punishment has been carried out.”“Nearly three decades after Honken coldly ended the lives of five people … all in an effort to protect himself and his criminal enterprise, he has finally faced justice,” Kupec said.After officials began administering the lethal injection, Honken began blinking his eyes, his fingers twitching and his lips quivering. After several minutes his breathing became more labored. He turned increasingly ashen as blood drained from his face and hands. His fingers gradually stopped twitching, and his breathing became shallower until it stopped.Honken was pronounced dead after 30 minutes – longer than the other two executions. An official with a stethoscope walked into the small death chamber, put his fingers on Honken‘s neck to check for a pulse, listened for a heartbeat, then exited.Seconds later, officials announced the time of death.Honken, whose crimes struck at the foundation of the U.S. justice system, always seemed the least likely to win a reprieve from the courts. After the two previous executions were repeatedly delayed amid back-and-forth legal maneuvering, Honken‘s began almost on the minute it had been scheduled for weeks.While out on bond in his drugs case in July 1993, Honken and his girlfriend Angela Johnson kidnapped Lori Duncan and her two daughters from their Mason City, Iowa, home, then killed and buried them in a wooded area nearby. Ten-year-old Kandi and 6-year-old Amber were still in their swimsuits on the hot summer day when they were shot execution-style in the back of the head.Their primary target that day was Lori Duncan’s then-boyfriend, Greg Nicholson, who also lived at the home and was also killed. He and Lori Duncan were bound and gagged and shot multiple times. Honken had recently learned Nicholson, a former drug-dealing associate, was cooperating with investigators and would likely testify against Honken at trial.Lori Duncan didn’t know Nicholson was an informant and she wasn’t involved in drugs.As the investigation into Honken continued, he killed another drug dealer working with him, Terry DeGeus, beating him with a bat and shooting him.Honken had earlier informed the judge in his drug case that he would plead guilty at the end of July. But days after the still-undiscovered killings of Nicholson and the Duncans, he told the court he would stick to his not guilty plea.A statement from the Duncan family said the execution provided a degree of justice and closure to the family.The two young Duncan girls “never had a chance to grow up and share in the joys and sorrows of their life,” it said. “Their mother never got to see them having their first dance, first date or first walk down the aisle at their wedding.”“We will continue to live with their loss,” it said. “However, this is a step toward healing of broken hearts and shattered lives.”Investigators found the Nicholson and Duncan bodies only seven years after the killings, in 2000, after Johnson scrawled out a map showing a jailhouse informant where they were buried. DeGeus’ body was found a few miles from the wooded area.Honken was considered so dangerous that the judge took the rare step of impaneling an anonymous jury. Other security measures included fitting Honken with a stun belt under his clothes to prevent him from trying to escape.Johnson, Honken‘s girlfriend, was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to death. A judge later reduced her sentence to life behind bars.In recent days, prison authorities permitted Honken to make his last calls to family and friends, according to Sister Betty Donoghue, a Catholic nun whom he called Wednesday.On death row, Honken befriended Lee and knew his execution was called off one hour, then was back on another hour, Donoghue said.“He was very upset with the way Danny died,” said Donoghue, who visited Honken regularly over the past decade.Yet Donoghue, of the Sisters of Providence just outside Terre Haute, said she was startled by how calm Honken sounded over the phone.“He was at peace. I was totally amazed,” she said. “He believed he would go to heaven. He is ready to meet his maker.”At his sentencing in 2005, Honken denied killing anybody, but Donoghue said she never heard him say he was innocent.Honken‘s mother, brother and college-age daughter visited him in prison in recent days, she said. TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA — North-central Iowa drug kingpin Dustin Honken was executed late Friday afternoon. The 52-year-old Honken, who prosecutors said killed key witnesses to stop them from testifying in his drugs case, received a lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Two others were also put to death during the week after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. Reporter Heather Good of CBS television affiliate WTHI-TV in Terre Haute was among the media witnesses who saw Friday’s execution.   “Dustin Honken used his time really for himself. He recited a poem and a prayer, never once looking up to anyone in the media room or any other room.” Honken, who had been on death row since 2005, was pronounced dead at 3:36 PM Iowa Time. The inmate – known for his verbosity at hearings and for a rambling statement declaring his innocence at sentencing – spoke only briefly, with his last words being, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me.” ======Below is the Associated Press’ final report regarding Honken’s executionlast_img read more

Day of Reckoning

first_imgBy Saah MillimonoIt was dark shortly after and I found myself sitting on a narrow wooden bench among stalls and tables. Next to me sat four elderly men, each waiting his turn while a woman served food. A jack-o-lantern shined next to the rice and soup pots, the naked flame waving. A small girl squatting on the ground, washed dishes. At four or five other tables a few more women sold and served food.I gave the woman twenty dollars, and she handed me a hot bowl of buckwheat served with a dollop of bitter-soup and palm-oil. The small girl rinsed and handed me a spoon. I began to eat, blowing on each spoonful before putting it into my mouth.When I had finished eating, I rose from the bench, walked a few steps away and sat on one of the market tables. The market was dark and quiet, save for the dim glow of light that came from the jack-o-lanterns set on the stalls and tables nearby. I looked toward the tarred road. Evening traders were still selling things by the roadside, the flame of their crude lamps were burning like miniature torches.Then I realized I was without a place to sleep for the night. I looked at the market-table on which I was sitting, thought that it would be nice to stretch out on its smooth surface, reassured by the presence of the people around me, and lay down on the table.I must have slept a long time because when I got up again the sun was nearly up. A few traders were arranging assorted goods on stalls and tables. Wheelbarrow men weaved in and out among the stalls and tables, carrying big wooden boxes. The day hawkers had not yet arrived to advertise their wares and shout at the top of their lungs, and except for the creaking of wheelbarrows, the sound of footsteps and the low voices of a few traders, the market was quiet.As I meandered through the stalls, I watched the faces of the traders. Though I could not tell what the thoughts of the traders were by just looking at their faces, I felt they were too unpredictable and that I ought to be on my guard. I believed that nine out of ten of these people would beat me to death, if I were found to be an NPFL rebel. I knew it would be a day of reckoning when they finally caught me, a day in which I would be made to pay a price for all those people that I had killed. As I looked at their faces, I was overwhelmed    by a surge of fear and hatred towards the traders. It was more fear and hate that I had felt toward anything or anyone before. Did they not know that I was abducted by the NPFL and that the killings I had done was only done because I wanted to live myself? Surely the NPFL would have killed me if they knew that they had given me a gun or but that I did not want to kill.  I had been forced to take orders, like many other young menI walked back across road to the video club and stood in the vacant lot in front of it. There were   no film posters on the wall yet, but the entrance to the video club was open. I wondered what films they would advertise today, and trembled with excitement. I went to the video club attendant, who was sitting just inside the door and eating rice with soup, to inquire about the price.“Hello,” I said.“Hello,” said the attendant.The attendant’s jaws were bulging as he ate, his mouth smeared with palm-oil grease.“How much for de shows?” I asked.“One dollar for one show,” said the attendant, and added, “Ehn you de one da wuh in de video club yesterday wen de rebels dem wuh ketchin pepo?”I nodded and looked him over. He looked not more than nineteen or twenty years of age and was tall, with sharp features, and long arms. A thin moustache barely covered his upper lip.You wuh lucky to run away,” he said. “De rebels ketch some boys and man dem yesteday. I hear their pepo wuh cryin for dem.”I said nothing. But the image of NPFL rebels once grabbing and hauling me out of my parents’ house came back to me with stark clarity. I looked away.“Leh eat-o,” the attendant said.“No mehn, I all right,” I said.“Where you eat?” the attendant asked.“I eat somewhere,” I said, “so I not hungry.”“Where you livin?” the attendant asked, still looking at me.“I livin wif my sista,” I said.The attendant looked surprised but said nothing.I turned and went back to join the people looking at the old posters.A street hawker selling short bread came along. I beckoned to her. The woman approached, swaying her fat bottom. She removed the wooden box, which had a glass on one side, from her head and placed it on the ground in front of her. I gave her a five-dollar note. She wrapped the bread in paper, handed it over to me, and left. I bought a bag of lukewarm water from another hawker and went into the video club because the movies had started.The movies came to an end late in the evening. Together with the crowd I came out of the video club into the vacant lot. The proprietor of the video club went to put off the generator. His attendant came carrying a roll of new movie posters.The attendant turned and looked at me. “My friend,” he said, pointing at me, “please cam help me hold de posters.”I approached and held the movie posters while he took one and tacked it to the wall until he had put up three posters. Then he climbed down from the cement block and said:“You camin go home?”“No, I will go to my sista in de market first,” I said.“If you help me sweep de video club,” the attendant said, “I will let you watch night shows.”I looked at the attendant for a moment, and then I nodded.The attendant motioned for me to follow him. Together we went into the video club. From behind the door the attendant removed a short broom made of palm fronds and handed it to me. I stooped and began to sweep the floor, littered with odds and ends. A cloud of dust rose into the small confines of the video club, and I sneezed. When I finished, I gathered the thrash   onto a piece of cardboard, and took it outside.The generator came on again a few minutes later. The attendant sat on the stool to collect payment. The proprietor, who had been sitting on a bench nearest to a table that had a number of video cassettes and the TV on it, pressed the on button. The screen came on blue. He inserted a cassette, and the first of the movies came on.I sat on a bench nearest the front row and looked around me. There were a few people sitting next to me, a few others at the back, and on the other rows of seats, but most of the wooden benches were unoccupied. Perhaps there would be fewer people tonight, unlike the crowd that came in the day, I thought.Finally the movies came to an end, and everyone came out of the video club. A cold breeze was blowing. Red Light market was dark save for the pale yellow light that came from the electric bulb at the entrance to the video club.A burst of gunshots came suddenly from the darkness, and I trembled, in spite of myself. I wondered whether somebody had been shot and killed or if the shooting had been done at random. Usually rebels would fire their weapons, and ninety-nine per cent of the time nobody could tell why.  It was funny how the war had turned out, I thought, from a desperate quest to remove Samuel Doe from the Executive Mansion to a circus where everyone did as they pleased until one could make no sense out of it. Perhaps the war was senseless, as I had often heard people say.I looked into the solid mass of darkness in front. But I was not afraid. Perhaps my life in the NPFL had long taught me not to be afraid, and while I did not now have a gun with me, my sense of bravery seemed like a refuge. I turned and walked into the darkness until I crossed Pipe Line Road and walked down a path that led into the stalls and tables by the roadside.I felt it would be safer not to sleep next to the road, and walked on farther into the market. I found a table I could sleep on and climbed on top of it. I sat for a while. I was alert and listening for the slightest sound that would indicate the presence of someone else close by or if I had been followed. But the market was silent, save for the breeze as it whispered softly through the wooden stalls and tables. I lay down on the table. Unaware of my own fatigue, I fell into a deep sleep.The villagers did not see the other NPFL fighters and me until we had rounded a path and entered the farm. Ahead of us trudged two village men, whose arms we had tied behind their backs. One of the men had been on the lookout while the others harvested cassava before we overcame him. The other man had, a little before dawn, left to cut palm nuts and had been captured. Thinking we would spare their lives, they had led us to the others on the farm and had promised to lead us to a refuge, where all the villagers had escaped to following the fall and capture of Bomi County by NPFL rebels. We had beaten the two men severely. Blood poured from their wounds. One of the men could barely walk. On the farm were a few men and women.As we approached, they stood up from their work and would have fled but one of us fired into the air. They fell to the ground, begging and trembling for their lives. We told them to sit up with their hands on their heads. Then we took their hoes and machetes. The cassava they had harvested lay in a small pile.  We ordered one of the men to gather it into an empty rice-bag. Then everyone was marched into the forest.To be cont’d.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more