FLORIDA EXECUTIONS

Florida: Executions Back on Track after High Court Ruling


The US Supreme Court has ruled that the drug midazolam is acceptable for use in lethal injections. 4 Oklahoma convicts had challenged the drugs use, and Florida courts stopped executions here pending the outcome. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the ruling is now likely to open the door to dozens of executions in Florida.
The High Court ruling is 127 pages long, but its essence can be found in the 1st sentence. “Because Capital punishment is constitutional, there must be a constitutional means of carrying it out” wrote the majority.
The ruling is a set back for anti death penalty advocates in Florida. Sheila Meenan represents Citizens Against the Death Penalty and while disappointed, remains hopeful.
“I do’t think there’s going to be an end to the death penalty anytime soon, but I do believe and am extremely hopeful, and it won’t be too long from now when the US Supreme Court is going to say that the death penalty is against the constitution” says Meehan.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote one of two blistering dissents.
“She really talked about how this drug, midazolam, could even be the equivalent of the chemical of burning at the stake. She used very strong language along those lines and as I say, 3 others concurred with her in that dissent” says Meehan.
Quadruple murderer Jerry Correll’s execution was stopped in February. It could soon be back on. Jerry Correll’s execution would set a record of 22 for one governor in modern times. A list prepared by the Florida Supreme court identified more than 100 inmates who have exhausted their appeals. Meehan says the decision opens the door to multiple warrants.
“Now that this decision is out, there is really nothing to stop Governor Scott from signing lots of death warrants. We’ve got lots of people, more than 400 people on Florida’s death row” says Meehan.
The Florida Department of Corrections did not respond to requests for an interview
This afternoon’s death row count was actually 396. And late this afternoon, Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the Florida Supreme Court to lift the Stay of Execution for Jerry Correll. Once lifted, the door is open for Governor Rick Scott to sign his and other death warrants.
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Florida executes Robert Hendrix


April 23, 2014

STARKE, Florida — Florida executed a man by lethal injection at 6:21 p.m. Wednesday at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was convicted of the 1990 murders of Elmer and Michelle Scott at their Lake County home.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hendrix’s last-minute request for a stay without comment. He ate a last meal of pork chops, sausage gravy and biscuits, German chocolate cake and a soft drink, state corrections officials said.
Prosecutors said Hendrix killed the couple because Elmer Scott intended to testify against him. But Hendrix’s attorney said there was no forensic evidence linking his client to the murders and that the witnesses against him were unreliable.
Hendrix becomes the fourth person executed in Florida this year and the 16th since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011.

FLORIDA – UPCOMING EXECUTION – APRIL 23 Robert Hendrix EXECUTED


last meal of pork chops, sausage gravy and biscuits, German chocolate cake and a soft drink

April 23,2014

Florida: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to postpone the execution or Robert Hendrix, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection today at 6 p.m. for the murder of a young Lake County couple nearly 24 years ago.

 Florida executed a man by lethal injection at 6:21 p.m. Wednesday at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was convicted of the 1990 murders of Elmer and Michelle Scott at their Lake County home.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hendrix’s last-minute request for a stay without comment. He ate a last meal of pork chops, sausage gravy and biscuits, German chocolate cake and a soft drink, state corrections officials said.
Prosecutors said Hendrix killed the couple because Elmer Scott intended to testify against him. But Hendrix’s attorney said there was no forensic evidence linking his client to the murders and that the witnesses against him were unreliable.
Hendrix becomes the fourth person executed in Florida this year and the 16th since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011.

April 22, 2014

Robert HendrixRobert Hendrix (photo prison)

In August 1990, the night before his trial in the armed burglary case was to begin, Hendrix shot Scott in the face in his trailer home, hit him in the head with the gun and stabbed him in the neck, prosecutors have said. He then used a knife to cut the throat of Scott’s wife, Michelle, who fought back before Hendrix shot her three times, they added.

Scott had already made a plea deal with prosecutors in the armed burglary case in which he and Hendrix broke into a house but only Scott was caught. His cooperation led investigators to arrest Hendrix. In the weeks leading up to his trial, prosecutors say, Hendrix told friends he would kill Scott rather than return to prison

But Scott and his attorney, Harry Brody, said the case is plagued by problems.

“There isn’t any real forensic evidence placing him at the scene,” Brody said. “He maintains the state hasn’t proven anything.”

Prosecutors say that on the night of the murders, Hendrix’s live-in girlfriend, Denise Turbyville, drove him from Orange County, where they lived, to the Scotts’ trailer in neighboring Lake County and dropped him off. Michelle Scott welcomed Hendrix into the trailer, and told him Elmer Scott was in the bathroom shaving and would be out shortly. When Elmer Scott came out, Hendrix asked to use the bathroom. When he left the bathroom, Hendrix fired shots at Elmer Scott and then grabbed a knife and attacked Michelle Scott, according to prosecutors.

Brody said the two main witnesses against Hendrix, Turbyville and Roger LaForce, who claimed Hendrix told him details about the murders while they shared a cell in the Lake County Jail, are unreliable. According to Brody, both had a self-interest in testifying for prosecutors.

Turbyville pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 75 years in prison instead of facing the possibility of the death penalty for a first-degree murder charge. LaForce was a confidential informant for a narcotics task force and stood to gain a lighter sentence for his assistance, Hendrix’s attorneys say.

“These two main witnesses were terribly compromised,” Brody said.

Brody also said the presiding judge had a conflict of interest, Hendrix’s trial lawyer was ineffective at presenting mitigating circumstances during sentencing and that Hendrix was shackled during his trial, leading jurors to a biased impression that he was dangerous.

The conflict of interest claim arises from Hendrix’s assertion that an attorney of Hendrix’s girlfriend had consulted with the presiding judge about the case before the judge joined the bench. The girlfriend, Turbyville, was a star witness for the prosecution. Appellate courts have dismissed the allegation. Hendrix’s attorneys also claimed the judge had presided over a criminal case against LaForce.

During sentencing, Hendrix’s attorneys failed to call witnesses who could have testified that Hendrix was regularly beaten by his father and had a serious drug addiction, factors that could explain his unbalanced mental state, according to court papers filed by Hendrix.

Through the Attorney General’s Office, family members of the victims didn’t respond to a request for an interview.

Prosecutors contend Hendrix’s claims of error during the trial are without merit.

“Hendrix fashions a cumulative error claim but fails to identify where any court has ever found error in any of his claims that would entitle him to relief,” Assistant Attorney General Mitchell Bishop said in a recent court filing.

If the execution is carried out, Hendrix would be the fourth person executed in Florida this year and the 16th since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. A petition is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Hendrix has filed a request for a stay of execution with the Florida Supreme Court.

 

 

 

 

US- UPCOMING EXECUTIONS APRIL 2014



Month State Inmate
April
3 TX Tommy Sells – executed
9 TX Ramiro Hernandez (Foreign National) – EXECUTED
16 TX Jose Jr Villegas EXECUTED
16 PA Stephen Edmiston – STAYED
22 TN Nikolaus Johnson STAYED
22 OK Clayton Lockett Updatestay was lifted and rescheduled for April 29.
23 FL Robert Hendrix EXECUTED
23 MO William Rousan EXECUTED
29 OK Charles Warner Update – stay was lifted

FLORIDA -Robert L. Henry executed 6.16 pm


march 20, 2014

 

A South Florida man convicted of killing two women by beating them with a hammer and setting them on fire during a robbery has been executed.

Robert L. Henry was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. after a lethal injection at the Florida State Prison.

He was convicted of the Nov. 2, 1987, murders of Phyllis Harris, 53, and Janet Thermidor, 35, his co-workers at Cloth World in Deerfield Beach.

Henry at first told authorities the crime was committed by an unknown assailant. But Thermidor lived for hours after being attacked and identified Henry to investigators.

Authorities said Henry stole $1,269 from the fabric store.

Robert Lavern Henry, who viciously beat and burned his co-workers in order to steal $1,269.26, was put to death by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison.

Janet Cox Thermidor, 35, and Phyllis Harris, 53, lost their lives in the sadistic crime more than 26 years ago.

Minutes before he died, Henry apologized, then philosophized against the death penalty.

“Hopefully, in the not-so-distant future, this society shall truly evolve in its law and practice, in that if we are not a society who are comfortable with castrating and raping a rapist, and we do not chop off the hands of thieves,” he read from a statement, “well then, why would we continue to be murderers to those who have murdered?”

He went on as the family members of those he killed sat feet away, watching through a wide window.

Us – EXECUTIONS 2014 (UPDATE)


Last updated on March 20, 2014
(Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals.)

 

 

Month

State

Inmate

March

 

 

19

OH

Gregory Lott – Stayed

20

FL

Robert Henry EXECUTED

20

OK

Clayton Lockett – EXECUTED (APRIL 29)

26

MO

Jeffrey Ferguson EXECUTED

26

MS

Charles Crawford Stayed as execution date had not been affirmed by state court.

27

OK

Charles Warner – Update – stay was lifted and rescheduled for April 29.

27

TX

Anthony Doyle EXECUTED

27

MS

Michelle Byrom STAYED

April

 

 

3

TX

Tommy Sells EXECUTED

9

TX

Ramiro Hernandez (Foreign National) EXECUTED

16

TX

Jose Villegas EXECUTED

16

PA

Stephen Edmiston – STAYED

22

TN

Nikolus Johnson STAYED

23

FL

Robert Hendrix EXECUTED

May

 

 

13

TX

Robert Campbell

21

TX

Robert Pruett

28

OH

Arthur Tyler

29

TX

Edgardo Cubas (Foreign National) – STAYED

August

 

 

6

OH

William Montgomery

October

 

 

7

TN

Billy Irick

15

OH

Raymond Tibbetts

November

 

 

26

IN

William Gibson – STAY LIKELY

December

 

 

9

TN

Ed Zagorski

FLORIDA – EXECUTION PAUL HOWELL FEBRUARY 26 6:00 PM EXECTUTED 6:32 PM


february 26, 2014

Authorities say 48-year-old Paul Augustus Howell was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. Wednesday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison

Howell’s last words “I want to thank the Fulford family,” Howell said. “They were pretty compassionate, and I’ll remember that.”

UPDATE  4:30pm

Howell’s last meal was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, according to a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

The DOC also says Howell had one friend visit and met with his Catholic spiritual adviser.

He is set to be executed by lethal injection.

The man who built a bomb that killed a Florida Highway Patrol trooper is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection.

Drug trafficker Paul Howell is set to die for the February 1992 murder of Trooper Jimmy Fulford at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Florida State Prison.

Howell rented a car and paid another man to deliver a gift-wrapped box to a woman in Marianna. Along the way, Fulford pulled the man over for speeding on Interstate 10 just east of Tallahassee.

The man gave Fulford a false name and birthdate and was arrested. Howell was called about the rental car and asked if Fulford had permission to be driving it and never warned the dispatcher the bomb was in the trunk.

Howell vs Florida – Supreme court Opinion february 20, 2014


Supreme Court of Florida
____________
No. SC14-167
____________
PAUL AUGUSTUS HOWELL
                          Appellant,
vs.
STATE OF FLORIDA,
Appellee.

[February 20, 2014

PER CURIAM.
Paul Augustus Howell is a prisoner under sentence of death for whom a death warrant has been signed and execution set for February 26, 2014. Howell was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death when the bomb he constructed, for the specific purpose of killing a witness, instead detonated and killed a Florida Highway PatrolTrooper.Howell v. State, 707  So. 2d 674, 683 (Fla. 1998) (affirming Howell’s convictions and death sentence on direct appeal).
Howell now appeals the denial of his amended third successive motion for postconviction relief, filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.851, in which he challenges the Florida lethal injection protocol as applied to him.
Read the full opinion : click here

Florida death row inmates receive ‘consciousness checks’ at execution – Paul Howell


february 20, 2014 (theguardian)

The state corrections official who stands beside condemned inmates as they take their last breaths in Florida’s death chamber recently pulled back the veil on what has largely been a very secretive execution process.

The testimony was given during a 11 February hearing in a lawsuit involving Paul Howell, a death row inmate scheduled to die by lethal injection 26 February. Howell is appealing his execution; his lawyers say the first of the injected drugs, midazolam, isn’t effective at preventing the pain of the subsequent drugs.

The Florida supreme court specifically asked the circuit court in Leon County to determine the efficacy of the so called “consciousness check” given to inmates by the execution team leader.

The testimony is notable because it shows that the Department of Corrections has changed its procedures since the state started using a new cocktail of lethal injection drugs. A shortage of execution drugs around the country is becoming worse as more pharmacies conclude that supplying the lethal chemicals is not worth the bad publicity or legal and ethical risks.

Timothy Cannon, who is the assistant secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections and the team leader present at every execution, told a Leon County court that an additional inmate “consciousness check” is now given due to news media reports and other testimony stemming from the 15 October execution of William Happ.

Happ was the first inmate to receive the new lethal injection drug trio. An Associated Press reporter who had covered executions using the old drug cocktail wrote that Happ acted differently during the execution than those executed before him. It appeared Happ remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness.

Cannon said in his testimony that during Happ’s execution and the ones that came before it, he did two “consciousness checks” based on what he learned at training at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Indiana – a “shake and shout”, where he vigorously shakes the inmate’s shoulders and calls his name loudly, and also strokes the inmate’s eyelashes and eyelid.

After Happ’s execution, Cannon said the department decided to institute a “trapezoid pinch”, where he squeezes the muscle between an inmate’s neck and shoulder.

It was added “to ensure we were taking every precaution we could possibly do to ensure the person was, in fact, unconscious”, Cannon said. “To make sure that this process was humane and dignified”.

Lawyers for Howell say that they are concerned that the midazolam does not produce a deep enough level of unconsciousness to prevent the inmate from feeling the pain of the second and third injection and causes a death that makes the inmate feel as though he is being buried alive.

“Beyond just the fact that constitution requires a humane death, if we decided that we wanted perpetrators of crime to die in the same way that their victims did then we would rape rapists. And we don’t rape rapists,” said Sonya Rudenstine, a Gainesville attorney who represents Howell.

“We should not be engaging of the behavior that we have said to abhor. If we are going to kill people, we have to do it humanely. It’s often said the inmate doesn’t suffer nearly as much as the victim, and I believe that’s what keeps us civilized and humane.”

Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary said on Wednesday that the department “remains committed to doing everything it can to ensure a humane and dignified lethal injection process”.

Cannon explained in his testimony that each execution team member “has to serve in the role of the condemned during training at some point”.

“We’ve changed several aspects of just the comfort level for the inmate while lying on the gurney,” he said. “Maybe we put sponges under the hand or padding under the hands to make it more comfortable, changed the pillow, the angle of things, just to try to make it a little more comfortable, more humane and more dignified as we move along.”

He said an inmate is first injected with two syringes of midazolam and a syringe of “flush”, a saline solution to get the drug into the body. Midazolam is a sedative.

Once the three syringes have been administered from an anonymous team of pharmacists and doctors in a back room, Cannon does the consciousness checks.

Meanwhile, the team in the back room watches the inmate’s face on a screen, which is captured by a video camera in the death chamber. The inmate is also hooked up to a heart monitor, Cannon said.

There are two executioners in the back room – the ones who deploy the drugs – along with an assistant team leader, three medical professionals, an independent monitor from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and two corrections employees who maintain an open line to the governor’s office.

If the team determines that the inmate is unconscious, the other two lethal drugs are administered.