Third federal execution this week

'Iowa's Walter White' executed for the 1993 murders of five people

Dustin Honken is led by federal marshals to a waiting car after the second day of jury selection in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa, in 2004

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US PRESS GROUP

'Iowa's Walter White' has been put to death over the 1993 murders of five people, marking the third federal execution this week after his white supremacist death row friend Daniel Lewis Lee was the first to be executed in 17 years.

Dustin Honken, 52, recited a poem by a Jesuit priest before he was executed by lethal injection at Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana Friday afternoon, after a judge denied his request earlier this week for a delay to his execution because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Honken, who went from being a nerdy chemistry student to a methamphetamine kingpin and murderer, was sentenced to death in 2004 for the brutal slayings of five people including two children and government informants.

His execution comes as Attorney General William Barr pushes ahead with executions ahead of the 2020 presidential race after a 17-year pause which began with Lee Tuesday followed by the execution of 'claw hammer' killer Wesley Purkey Thursday.

He had been on death row since 2005 convicted of the murders of Greg Nicholson, Terry DeGeus, Lori Duncan and her daughters Kandi, 10, and Amber, 6, in Mason City in 1993.

Honken was pronounced dead at 4.36pm EDT by the Vigo County Coroner.

The killer, who has always maintained his innocence of the murders and made a long statement of his innocence at his sentencing, went to his grave without confessing to his crimes.

Honken failed to show any remorse or address his crimes or the victims' families in his final words on his death bed.

Instead he recited a poem by the English poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins called 'Heaven-Haven' and then simply said: 'Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for me'.

Honken's lawyer, Shawn Nolan, said his client had repented for his crimes and was a devout Catholic who 'cared for everyone he came into contact with' in prison.

'There was no reason for the government to kill him, in haste or at all. In any case, they failed. The Dustin Honken they wanted to kill is long gone,' Nolan said.

'The man they killed today was a human being, who could have spent the rest of his days helping others and further redeeming himself. May he rest in peace.'

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, including two young girls, all in an effort to protect himself and his criminal enterprise, he has finally faced justice,' Kupec said.

Honken's daughter, who has visited him on death row for years, reportedly visited her dad earlier in the day and thanked pro-life protesters who gathered outside the jail in opposition to the death penalty.

Honken had become close friends with white supremacist Lee while the two killers have both been on death row.

Honken made his last calls to his family and friends and his mother, brother and daughter had all visited him in prison in recent days. He is the first Iowan since 1963 to be put to death.

The state abolished the death penalty back in 1965, but federal prosecutors sought to execute Honken because of the nature of his heinous crimes killing government informants and children.

Mark Bennett, the federal judge who oversaw Honken's trial, said he generally opposes the death penalty but if anyone deserves to be executed, it is Honken.

He said Honken's crimes were reprehensible and he had a fair legal process, including talented lawyers who 'did an outstanding job with virtually nothing to work with'.

Honken was convicted in 2004 of the brutal 1993 slayings of his two drug dealers turned informants Nicholson and DeGeus, as well as single working mom Duncan and her daughters Kandi and Amber.

Nicholson, Duncan, Kandi, and Amber vanished on July 25 and DeGeus disappeared on November 5.

The bodies of Nicholson and the Duncan family were found buried in a single hole located in a wooded area outside Mason City in 2000 after an informant provided authorities with maps of where Honken's accomplice girlfriend Angela Johnson told him the bodies were buried.

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 with a severely fragmented skull having been shot one or more times.

Honken shot and killed the two men because they planned to testify against him on drug charges.

The single mom and two kids were murdered after Nicholson hid out with them. Duncan didn't know Nicholson was an informant and she wasn't involved in drugs.

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