U.S. deathrow inmate Orlando Hall was executed on Thursday in a marked departure by the administration of Donald Trump from a tradition under which lame-duck U.S. presidents refrain from judicial killings.
“Orlando Cordia Hall, 49, was put to death via lethal injection late Thursday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute,” the Department of Justice announced on its website.
The 49-year-old African American was injected with the lethal drug pentobarbital in a prison in the state of Indiana, the Department of Justice said. He had been sentenced to death for the abduction, rape and murder of a 16-year old, Lisa Rene, whom Hall, along with a number of accomplices, had beaten and buried alive in a settling of scores.
He was executed following the rejection of his last appeal by the Supreme Court.
This was the first decision by the newest Supreme Court judge, Amy Coney Barrett, one of six conservatives on the nine-member bench.
Hall’s execution was the eighth federal one since the resumption of a practice that had been suspended for 17 years and which was opposed by Democratic president elect Joe Biden, scheduled to take the oath of office on 20 January.
Almost all US states have refrained from applying the death penalty since the start of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However the Trump administration has carried out an unparalleled number of executions – nine since July, as against 3 over the past 45 years.
Two more are planned for the coming weeks, despite a 131-year-old tradition under which presidents who have not been re-elected hold over executions until their successors are sworn in.
Donald Trump still refuses to concede defeat after losing to Biden at presidential elections held on 3 November.
Although their client has never denied his rôle in the death of Lise Rene, Hall’s attorneys, Marcia Widder and Robert Owen, denounced racial prejudices at his trial by an all-white jury.
They said his case reflected the “troubling disparities” in the enforcement of the death penalty in the United States, where 45% of those executed are African Americans, whereas members of that community make up just 13% of the US population.
The Department of Justice plans to carry out two more executions ahead of the swearing-in of Job Biden, billed for 20 January.
Lisa Montgomery was to have been put to death on 8 December, but her execution was postponed to 31 December after her lawyers contracted the novel Coronavirus.
Brandon Bernard is scheduled to be executed on 10 December.