US government executes killer of 10-year-old girl

Keith Dwayne Nelson was executed Friday. This image show a No Trespassing sign in front of the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, IN, Friday, July 17, 2020. By Jessica Schneider, CNN

(CNN) -- Keith Dwayne Nelson was executed Friday at 4:32 p.m., according to the Bureau of Prisons, marking the fifth federal execution in the past six weeks.

The Justice Department reinstated federal executions in mid-July after a 17-year hiatus.

Nelson, 45, had been sentenced to death for the 1999 kidnapping, sexual abuse and subsequent killing of a 10-year-old girl, Pamela Butler, he abducted while she was rollerblading in front of her Kansas home. Nelson confessed to raping Butler and strangling her with a wire.

Nelson's attorneys had filed a flurry of last-minute legal challenges to his execution, including arguments that the use of the drug pentobarbital, used in every federal lethal injection this summer, violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. The appeals court in Washington, DC, ultimately ordered his execution must move forward despite his claim. They did not appeal to the Supreme Court.

His attorneys, Dale Baich and Jen Moreno, said that "the execution of Keith Nelson did not make the world a safer place. Over the years, we have come to know Keith as someone who was different than the person who committed the horrible crime to which he admitted and pled guilty to in 2001. We saw his humanity, his compassion, and his sense of humor."

When a prison official standing over Nelson asked him if he had any last words, he was met with silence. Nelson did not utter a word, grunt or nod. The official waited for about 15 seconds, his eyes fixed on Nelson, then turned away and began the execution procedures. Nelson was pronounced dead about nine minutes after the injection began.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Share this article:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?