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Ret. Federal Judge Responds to Execution Update for Convicted Iowa Murderer

Siouxland Public Media

The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced plans to resume federal executions for the first time in 15 years.

Five inmates are scheduled to be put to death for their crimes, including Iowa-native Dustin Honken.

Honken received the death penalty in 2004 for five murders, including two children in 1993. 

Their bodies were discovered in a mass grave near Mason City in 2000. 

Retired Federal Judge Mark Bennett sat on the bench during Honken’s trial in Sioux City . 

Bennett is now at Drake University serving as the Director of the new Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation. 

The Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation serves as a center for research and training on topics like sentencing reform, bias and improving trial procedures.

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer traveled to Des Moines over the weekend to meet up with Judge Bennett at the Drake Law School.

He talked about the case, security measures taken during the trial and his thoughts on the government’s move to execute Honken.

Bennett also presided over the trial of Dustin Honken’s girlfriend Angela Johnson.  She was the first woman to receive the federal death penalty in 50 years.  Judge Bennett vacated her sentence after he ruled Johnson didn’t get adequate council during her trial.  She was re-sentenced to life in prison.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.