The US Department of Justice (DOJ) carried out the third federal execution in four days on Friday, executing Dustin Lee Honken for the murder of five people, including two children. Honken’s execution is the third in a string of federal executions in the past four days.
A jury in Iowa found Honken guilty of five murders in 2004 as part of a continuing criminal enterprise. Formerly a chemistry student, Honken was indicted on federal drug charges in 1993. DOJ spokeperson Kerri Kupec described Honken as a “meth kingpin.”
Following the indictment, Honken and his girlfriend Angela Johnson sought out, then shot and killed potential witness Greg Nicholson, Nicholson’s girlfriend Lori Duncan and her two children. The children, Amber and Kandi, were aged six and ten. Later, Honken and Johnson shot and killed yet another potential witness, Terry DeGeus.
Initially, both Honken and Johnson were sentenced to death. However, a judge overturned Johnson’s sentence because her counsel failed to overturn information about Johnson’s mental health. Johnson is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Honken’s execution follows the Tuesday execution of Daniel Lewis Lee and Thursday execution of Wesley Purkey. These executions mark the ending of a nearly two decade hiatus from federal executions.
The New York Times reported Honken’s last words: “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for me.”