It appears that while other states are backing away from the death penalty, Gov. Rick Scott is growing more comfortable with it, as the executions are picking up speed in Florida. Scott signed the third death warrant of his governorship yesterday, this time calling for the execution of 65-year-old Robert Waterhouse.
It is interesting to note that all three warrants have been for inmates over the age of 60. Of the 395 people on Florida’s death row, only 18 have been there longer than Waterhouse, according to Florida Department of Corrections records. If the execution goes forward, Waterhouse will be the longest serving death row inmate to have been put to death.
Waterhouse, who was arrested for the murder of a St. Petersburg woman on January 9, 1980, was convicted and sentenced to death that September.
The Broward Palm Beach New Times reports that according to the Florida Commission on Capital Cases, a woman’s nude body was found in the mud flats of Tampa Bay on January 3, 1980, with evidence that she’d been cut up, raped, and eventually drowned.
That woman was identified as 29-year-old Deborah Kammerer.
St. Petersburg police ended up going public for help solving the crime, and an anonymous caller phoned in and gave Waterhouse’s license plate number and “suggested that they should investigate him,” according to the commission.
Kammerer’s neighbors told the cops they’d gone with her to a bar that night but left without her. The bartender there said Kammerer left with Waterhouse around 1 a.m.
On January 7, 1980, Waterhouse was asked to go to the police station for voluntary questioning, but meanwhile, the cops got a warrant to impound and search his car. Waterhouse denied doing anything or even knowing Kammerer, but there was blood and hair evidence in his car that implicated him. After being arrested for her murder, Waterhouse eventually admitted during an interrogation that he did know her, according to the commission.
He was nearly executed in Florida’s electric chair back in 1985 his execution was held up by judges.The state Supreme Court in 1988 ordered a new sentencing hearing because jurors were told they could not consider certain factors in deciding whether to recommend a death sentence, including that Waterhouse had been severely abused when he was a child and was an alcoholic. But in 1990, he received another death sentence. An attorney in 2005 tried to get Waterhouse removed from death row because DNA evidence in his case had been mistakenly tossed out by a court clerk. But the state Supreme Court eventually sided against him.
According to the governor’s letter to the Department of Corrections, Waterhouse’s execution is scheduled for February 15. If the sentence goes through, Waterhouse, 65, will be the second Pinellas killer put to death within a year.