As federal executions resume, attention focuses on two Mass. men on federal death row

BOSTON — Early Monday morning, Daniel Lewis Lee, a 47-year-old man from Oklahoma, was executed for his role in the 1996 murder of an Arkansas family.

The one-time white supremacist was executed by lethal injection at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, just after 8 a.m.

Lee’s execution is significant because it was the first federal execution in 17 years. Two more executions are scheduled for later this week, and a fourth is set for August.

The resumption of federal execution sheds new light on the fates of spree killer Gary Lee Sampson and Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two Massachusetts men now on federal death row.

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Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984, but the state has not executed an inmate since 1947.

Sampson and Tsarnaev were charged, convicted and sentenced on the federal level and that’s how they find themselves on death row, even though their crimes took place in a non-death penalty state.

Boston attorney and former federal prosecutor Brad Bailey said that while the resumption of federal executions after a nearly two-decade gap indicates a clear shift in federal policy, it’s still too early to say how it will impact Sampson and Tsarnaev.

Both men have yet to exhaust their appeals.

“I think this decision does not signal that the timetable is accelerating for either Mr. Sampson or Mr. Tsarnaev but it is suggesting that this administration is trying to push these cases out, move them along quicker,” Bailey said.

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