Daniel Lewis Lee
|Born||January 31, 1973|
|Died||July 14, 2020 (aged 47)|
|Cause of death||Execution by lethal injection|
|Other names||Danny Lee|
Daniel Lewis Graham
D L Graham
|Criminal penalty||Death (May 4, 1999)|
|June 17, 1997|
|Imprisoned at||United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute in Terre Haute, Indiana|
Daniel Lewis Lee (January 31, 1973 - July 14, 2020) was an American white supremacist and convicted murderer who was sentenced to death for the 1996 murders of William Mueller and his family. Lee and his accomplice, Chevie Kehoe, murdered gun dealer William Frederick Mueller, his wife, and his 8-year-old step-daughter, in Arkansas, on January 11, 1996.
Kehoe was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for the Mueller murders. Lee was also convicted for his role in the murders, and was sentenced to death by the United States federal government, in spite of pleas for clemency from the Muellers' family members. Lee was scheduled to be executed on July 13, 2020, but on that date, a U.S. district judge blocked the execution, citing unresolved legal issues. In the early hours of July 14, the Supreme Court ruled that the execution could proceed. Following this ruling, Lee's execution was scheduled for 4:00am that same day. The execution took place later that morning and Lee was declared dead at 8:07am on July 14, 2020.. He was the first person to be executed by the Federal Government in 17 years.
1 Early life
2 Mueller family murders
3 Sentencing and execution
5 See also
Lee was born on January 31, 1973, in Yukon, Oklahoma. He was reportedly abused and neglected as a child. On July 24, 1990, in Oklahoma City, then 17-year-old Lee got into an altercation with another man, Joseph “Joey” Wavra III, at a party. Lee struck Wavra in the face and kicked him on the floor once he'd collapsed. He then assisted his cousin, John David Patton, in moving Wavra to a sewer tunnel. Lee took items from Wavra and handed Patton a knife which Patton used to kill him. Lee then assisted in disposing of Wavra's clothes. On December 2, 1990, Lee pleaded guilty to robbery, whereupon the murder charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for his involvement in the crime, while Patton was sentenced to life without parole.
Lee met white supremacist Chevie Kehoe in 1995, and was recruited into a group called the APR. The APR was a white supremacist organization known as the Aryan Peoples' Republic or the Aryan Peoples' Resistance. Kehoe formed the APR to establish an independent nation of white members of the Christian Identity faith. On May 3, 1995, Lee was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to six months probation.
Mueller family murders
In January 1996, Lee and Kehoe left the state of Washington and traveled to Arkansas. On January 11, 1996, they arrived at the home of William Frederick Mueller, a gun dealer who lived near Tilly, Arkansas, who owned a large collection of weapons, ammunition, and cash. Kehoe and his father had robbed Mueller back in February 1995, and Kehoe planned to find valuable property at the house. Dressed in police raid clothing, the two men tried to enter the home of Mueller, but they were not at home. When the Muellers returned, Lee and Kehoe overpowered and incapacitated Mueller and his wife, Nancy Ann Mueller (née Branch). They then questioned Nancy Mueller's 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Powell, about where they could find the cash, guns, and ammunition. After finding $50,000 in cash, guns, and ammunition, they shot each of the three victims with a stun gun, causing them to pass out. They then placed plastic bags over their heads, and sealed the bags with duct tape, suffocating them to death. They took the victims in Kehoe's vehicle to the Illinois Bayou, where they taped rocks to them and threw each family member into the swamp. The bodies were discovered in Lake Dardanelle near Russellville, Arkansas in late June 1996.
Kehoe and his family took the stolen property to a motel in Spokane, Washington, by way of the Christian Identity community of Elohim City, Oklahoma. On June 17, 1997, Kehoe was arrested in Cedar City, Utah.
Sentencing and execution
When Kehoe was sentenced to life imprisonment, local prosecutors planned to pursue a similar sentence of life imprisonment for accomplice Daniel Lewis Lee, but were directed by the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to argue for a death sentence. U.S. Attorney Paula Casey requested U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno withdraw jeopardy of capital punishment but was told by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to continue seeking a death sentence. Lee received a death sentence for three counts of murder in aid of racketeering. The mother of Nancy Mueller, Earlene Branch Peterson, pleaded for clemency on behalf of Lee. She stated, “I can’t see how executing Daniel Lee will honor my daughter in any way. In fact, it’s kinda like it dirties her name. Because she wouldn’t want it and I don’t want it.”
In December 1999, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued a writ of mandamus quashing Lee's subpoenas of Reno and Holder regarding the sentencing decision. In March 2000, District Judge Garnett Thomas Eisele granted Lee's motion for a new penalty phase trial if the Attorney General herself decided not to withdraw the death penalty. In December 2001, that judgment was reversed by the Eighth Circuit, which reinstated Lee's death sentence. In July 2004, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Lee's conviction and death sentence on the merits.
In April 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Lee's habeas corpus petition challenging the constitutionality of his conviction. In July 2015, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Lee's subsequent habeas motion challenging the constitutionality of his prior habeas motion. Lee was scheduled to be executed on December 9, 2019, and would have been the first inmate to be executed by the federal government since the execution of Louis Jones, Jr. in 2003. On November 20, 2019, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued a preliminary injunction preventing the resumption of federal executions. Lee and the other three plaintiffs in the case argued that the use of pentobarbital may violate the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.
On December 5, 2019, an Indiana federal court stayed Lee's execution, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the Indiana federal court's stay of execution on December 6, 2019. Later that same day, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a stay of Chutkan's injunction against all federal executions while the U.S. Court of Appeals reviews Chutkan's decision.
In April 2020, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated District Judge Chutkan's injunction in a per curiam decision. Circuit Judges Gregory G. Katsas and Neomi Rao both wrote concurring opinions concluding that Lee may be executed, but for different reasons. Circuit Judge David S. Tatel dissented, arguing that the statute explicitly requires the federal government to follow state execution protocols. On June 29, 2020, the Supreme Court denied Lee's petition for a writ of certiorari, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.
The execution date was set for July 13, 2020, the first of several federal executions scheduled after the D.C. Circuit's ruling. The victims' families asked for a rescheduling of the date, saying they were unable to travel to witness the execution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Seventh Circuit ruled that while allowing the victims' families to attend such events is standard practice, there are no rights or legal basis for their attendance, and denied a change in date. The victims' families sent an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. Before the Supreme Court could rule, Judge Chutkan ordered a halt to all federal executions on the basis that the process was "very likely to cause extreme pain and needless suffering". The Department of Justice appealed to both the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court. The D.C. Circuit Court did not intervene. In the early morning of July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the hold that Chutkan previously implemented in a 5–4 decision. This action allows the Department of Justice to proceed with the execution; Lee's lawyers said that the execution could not go forward after midnight under federal regulations.
The Discovery Channel's docudrama series The FBI Files reenacts the behavior of Kehoe and Lee while also showing the forensic science used by the FBI to arrest them in season 2, episode 16, "Deadly Mission", originally aired: 2000.
Capital punishment by the United States federal government
Capital punishment in the United States
List of people executed by the United States federal government
List of offenders executed in the United States in 2020
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