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Supreme Court rules federal execution of Wesley Purkey can proceed

July 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

This May 2000 photo provided by the Kansas Department of Corrections shows Wesley Ira Purkey, who was convicted of kidnapping and killing a 16-year-old girl, and was sentenced to death. Purkey???s execution is scheduled to occur on July 15, 2020, in Terre Haute, Ind. (Kansas Department of Corrections via AP)

The Supreme Court cleared the way for the federal execution of 68-year-old Wesley Purkey Thursday morning after a lower court judge halted his execution and ordered further evaluation of claims about Purkey's mental competency.

(CNN)The Supreme Court cleared the way for the federal execution of 68-year-old Wesley Purkey Thursday morning after a lower court judge halted his execution and ordered further evaluation of claims about Purkey's mental competency.

The court's order grants the government's request to lift an injunction that had blocked Purkey's execution, originally scheduled for Wednesday evening.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an injunction Wednesday prohibiting the federal Bureau of Prisons from going forward with Purkey's scheduled execution.

Chutkan noted that Purkey suffers from progressive dementia, schizophrenia and severe mental illness, but did not rule on whether Purkey is competent, and ordered the court to further evaluate these claims.

Purkey was sentenced to death in January 2004 after he was convicted in federal court for the interstate kidnapping and killing of 16-year-old Jennifer Long in 1998.

Despite the Supreme Court's order, Purkey's attorneys continue to challenge his execution.

Purkey's lawyers have also filed two last-minute claims in federal court in Indiana renewing his argument that he is mentally incompetent, making any execution unconstitutional.

It is unclear if these filings in the wake of the Supreme Court's order will further delay Purkey's execution.

If Purkey's execution moves forward, he will be the second federal inmate executed this week.

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