A second federal inmate scheduled to be put to death next month in a series of executions by the Trump administration has tested positive for COVID-19, the Associated Press reports. The diagnosis of Cory Johnson, who was convicted of killing seven people related to his drug trafficking in Virginia, came day after attorneys for Dustin John Higgs confirmed he tested positive at a U.S. prison in Terre Haute, In., where both men are on death row. Johnson, Higgs and Lisa Montgomery are scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Johnson’s lawyers, Donald Salzman and Ronald Tabak, called on federal authorities to delay their client’s current execution date of Jan. 14. Higgs is scheduled to die a day later.
Montgomery’s execution date is Jan. 12. She is being held at a prison for female inmates in Texas and would need to be brought to Indiana to be executed. Johnson’s attorneys said his infection would make it difficult to interact with him in the critical days leading up to his scheduled execution, adding that “the widespread outbreak on the federal death row only confirms the reckless disregard for the lives and safety of staff, prisoners, and attorneys alike.” They said they would go to court if the Justice Department did not withdraw the execution date. Prosecutors alleged that Johnson was one of three crack cocaine dealers who carried out a string of murders and that he killed seven people in 1992 in an attempt to expand the territory of a Richmond, Va., gang and silence informants. His attorneys argued that he is intellectually disabled, with a far-below average IQ, and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.