Judge denies request to delay Iowa drug kingpin's Friday execution

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2004 file photo, Dustin Honken is led by federal marshals to a waiting car after the second day of jury selection in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa. A federal judge has denied the Iowa drug kingpin's requests to delay his execution, which is scheduled for Friday, July 17, 2020. U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand wrote Tuesday, July 14 that he would not intervene to delay Honken's execution date due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said the Bureau of Prisons was in the best position to weigh the health risks against the benefits of carrying out the execution. (Tim Hynds/Sioux City Journal via AP, File)

A federal judge has denied an Iowa drug kingpin's requests to delay his execution, which is scheduled for Friday.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand wrote Tuesday that he would not intervene to delay Dustin Honken's execution date due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said the Bureau of Prisons was in the best position to weigh the health risks against the benefits of carrying out the execution.

Strand also denied Honken's motion to declare his execution void due to an alleged procedural error by the government. He affirmed the executive branch's power to set the date for executions.

Honken, 52, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The government executed a federal inmate Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. A second execution was scheduled for Wednesday.

Honken is facing execution for the 1993 slayings of five people in the Mason City area. Prosecutors say Honken killed them in an attempt to thwart an investigation into his methamphetamine trafficking business.

Also Tuesday, a federal judge in Indiana denied a request by Honken's spiritual adviser to put the execution on hold. The adviser, a Catholic priest, had asked to delay the execution until after the pandemic recedes.

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