Family member of Daniel Lewis Lee’s victims files lawsuit to delay execution

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FILE – In this Oct. 31 1997, file photo, Danny Lee waits for his arraignment hearing for the 1996 murders of an Arkansas family in Russellville, Ark. Lee’s request for a new trial in a 1999 federal murder conviction and death sentence in Arkansas has been denied, with the judge saying he doesn’t have jurisdiction while noting that evidence presented by attorneys “is reasonably likely” to have led in a different sentence. (Dan Pierce/The Courier via AP, File)

HECTOR, Ark.- Daniel Lewis Lee is scheduled to be the first of four federal death row inmates to be executed next week.

He was convicted of killing a Pope County family of three in 1996.

Court records say the killings were part of a plot to establish a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.

Lee’s scheduled execution could be delayed after his victims’ family filed a lawsuit this week hoping to push it.

Earlene Peterson, the mother of Nancy Mueller and grandmother of 8-year-old Sarah Powell, two of the three brutally murdered in 1996, says the coronavirus poses too much of a travel threat for her to leave her home in Hector to go to Indiana.

Right now, Lee is set to be put to death Monday at the federal prison in Terre Haute, but the lawsuit filed Tuesday could change that.

In it, Peterson’s attorney sites multiple health conditions of different family members that could be lethal if one of them contracts coronavirus while traveling to the execution.

Peterson just hopes the courts will listen.

“Think the judge is going to suspend this until after the pandemic,” Peterson says. “I’m hoping and praying for that. I spent a lot of time in my war room praying about it, and I feel pretty good about it.”

A decision on whether to move the execution could come as early as Thursday or as late as Monday morning, the day it is set to happen.

Until then, Peterson says she will remain in Hector and pray that her something good happens.

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