Jeffrey Lundgren 88.
(photo credit: )
Ohio executed a religious cult leader Tuesday for murdering a family of five of his followers whom he thought were not enthusiastic enough about his teachings.
Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, died by injection at 10:26 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, less than a day after a federal appellate court overturned a lower court's ruling that would have temporarily stayed his execution while he challenges the constitutionality of the use of the lethal injection.
Lundgren told a jury in 1990 that he was a prophet of God and therefore not worthy of the death penalty.
"It's not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice," he had told the jurors. "I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet."
He was convicted of killing Dennis Avery, 49; his wife, Cheryl, 46; and their daughters, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and 7-year-old Karen.
"I profess my love for God, my family, for my children, for Kathy. I am because you are," Lundgren said in his final statement. Kathy is Lundgren's wife.
The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued an order late Monday allowing the execution to go forward, overturning a lower court ruling that would have delayed the sentence to allow Lundgren to join a lawsuit challenging Ohio's use of lethal injection as unconstitutional because it violates the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Lundgren argued his execution had more of a chance of being painful because he was diabetic and overweight at 275 pounds (124 kilograms). The U.S. Supreme Court refused a last-minute request to stop his execution, and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft denied clemency.
Lundgren formed the cult with about 20 members in the northeast Ohio town of Kirtland after he was dismissed in 1987 as a lay minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the main Mormon church.
Lundgren said God commanded him, through interpretation of Scriptures, to kill the Avery family, who had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow his teachings.
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