UPDATE: According to Michael Kruse of the Tampa Bay Times, Waterhouse has been served his last meal, which consisted of two pork chops, two fried eggs, two pieces of toast, cherry pie, butter pecan ice cream, a pint of OJ and a pint of milk.
Florida is set to carry out their first execution of 2012 tonight with the lethal injection of Robert Waterhouse. Waterhouse, 65, was convicted in 1980 of murdering Deborah Kammerer of St. Petersburg. Her body was found in the tidal flats of Tampa Bay. She’d been beaten, raped and dragged into the bay.
If Waterhouse is executed, he will have lingered on death row longer than any of the previous 276 people executed by the state, according to the Department of Corrections. He’s spent more than 31 years mostly by himself in a 6-by-9-foot cell as his various appeals worked their way through the courts. Just 18 of the 395 people currently on death row have been there longer than him.
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court rejected arguments that Waterhouse should be spared because of testimony from a newly discovered witness and the destruction of physical evidence that made it impossible to perform DNA testing that could exonerate him. Justices concluded the new testimony was unreliable and wouldn’t have been enough to acquit Waterhouse if he were to be retried.
Waterhouse is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it seems unlikely that he will be granted a stay.
A CBS Miami story about Waterhouse’s execution is getting quite a few mentions for raising the same question I raised here several months ago: How does the governor choose who to execute? The CBS Miami story reports:
No one in Gov. Rick Scott’s office would talk in detail about the process that led him to pick Waterhouse over others whose appeals have run their course.
“Governor Scott takes his legal duty to sign death warrants very seriously and is committed to following the law in as thoughtful and deliberative a manner as possible. There are many factors that bear upon the governor’s decision each time he must choose to sign a death warrant, which is always on a case-by-case basis,” his aides said in a statement.
Others familiar with the process say that because many condemned inmates’ cases are in various stages of appeal and new litigation is filed all the time, there is never a clear choice for the governor.
Craig Trocino, who handled death row appeals for years before going to work for a University of Miami law school clinic, said the “incredibly secretive” nature of the governor’s selection process has always disturbed death penalty opponents.
“There was no logic to any it, as far as we could tell, and nobody was speaking about it,” Trocino said. “If it’s really above-board, the governor would open his book and say ‘This is the procedure I take in determining this.’”
Waterhouse is set to die at 6 p.m. ET at Florida State Prison in Starke.