TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – An Iowa community college dropout who created a meth empire and was convicted of murdering five people in the early 1990s became the third federal prisoner to be executed this week.
Dustin Lee Honken was executed via lethal injection Friday at the federal correctional complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, the Des Moines Register reported.
Honken, 52, joins Wesley Ira Purkey of Kansas and Daniel Lewis Lee, who became the first federal prisoners to be executed in more than 20 years, according to The Associated Press. Lee, a white supremacist who killed a three-person family, including an 8-year-old girl, was executed Tuesday. Purkey, who raped, murdered, dismembered and dumped the body of a 16-year-old girl in a septic pond, was put to death Thursday.
Honken was pronounced dead at 4:36 p.m. EDT Friday. His last words were: “Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for me,” the Register reported.
“We owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes, and to the families left behind, to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.
Honken, of Britt, Iowa, had been on death row since October 2005, CNN reported. He was the first Iowan in 57 years to be executed in an Iowa case, according to the Register. Victor Feguer, who kidnapped and killed a Dubuque doctor, was executed by hanging at the Iowa State Penitentiary in 1963, the newspaper reported.
Iowa banned the death penalty in 1965, but Honken was eligible for execution because he was tried in federal court, according to the AP.
Honken’s attorney, Shawn Nolan, told reporters his client was “redeemed” and had repented for his crimes.
“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.”
Honken earned a scholarship to North Iowa Area Community College in the early 1990s, earning an A- average in chemistry after one year. Honken began selling marijuana and cocaine and progressed to methamphetamines in 1991, building a large list of clients, the Register reported.
In July 1993, Honken and his girlfriend, Angela Johnson, kidnapped Lori Duncan and her 10- and 6-year-old daughters from their Mason City home, according to the newspaper. Honken then killed the trio, burying them in a wooded area.
Also killed was Duncan’s boyfriend, Greg Nicholson, a former drug-dealing associate of Honken’s who was cooperating with investigators and was likely going to testify against Honken, who was out on bail awaiting a drug trial, the Register reported. Terry DeGeus, another dealer, also was killed by Honken, prosecutors said.
Honken was found guilty of “numerous” federal offenses on Oct. 14, 2004, including five counts of continuing criminal enterprise murder.
Johnson was originally sentenced to death for her part in the crime, but had her sentence reduced to life in prison, the newspaper reported.
“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,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
Keith Dwayne Nelson, who kidnapped and raped a 10-year-old girl, is the next federal prisoner scheduled to be executed, the Register reported. An Aug. 28 date has been set for Nelson’s death.
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