The planned federal execution of Keith Dwayne Nelson is back on schedule for Friday evening after an appeals court overturned an earlier ruling from a DC District Court judge.
The flurry of last-minute court rulings began Thursday morning when Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered the execution halted while Nelson moved forward with claims that the government’s use of the drug pentobarbital violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
Thursday evening, approximately 24 hours before Nelson’s originally scheduled execution for 6 p.m. Friday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction set in place by Judge Chutkan.
Nelson’s attorneys told CNN they were reviewing the opinion and considering their options, including a possible appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The ruling basically allows the government to pick and choose when it will follow the law,” attorney Dale Baich said.
Nelson, 45, is scheduled to be the fifth federal inmate executed this summer after the Justice Department reinstated federal executions after a 17-year hiatus.
Nelson was sentenced to death for the kidnapping, sexual abuse and subsequent killing of a 10-year-old girl he took while she was rollerblading in front of her Kansas home. Nelson confessed to raping the girl and strangling her to death with a wire.
Even if Nelson appeals to the Supreme Court, it is unlikely the justices will agree to halt his execution. The Court has allowed all three executions that have been appealed this summer to proceed.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.