RAIFORD, Fla. — When David Alan Gore woke up today — the day of his scheduled execution — he had more interaction with people than he has had since his death warrant was signed six weeks ago.
After Gov. Rick Scott signed the warrant on Feb. 28 for the first-degree murder of Lynn Elliott in Vero Beach, Gore was moved from his 6-foot by 9-foot death row cell at Starke’s Union Correctional Institution to a 12-foot by 7-foot death watch cell at Starke’s Florida State Prison.
There, he has been secluded from all other death row inmates with whom he regularly got the chance to talk at the prison’s exercise yard. Gore also was allowed one legal and one social phone call, but officials did not release whether he used those privileges.
Gore on Thursday will have the opportunity to spend two hours with approved visitors. A religious adviser will meet with him, if he requests it. And he’ll have his last meal, which will be prepared by prison staff with local ingredients that cost no more than $40 total. Officials at the Florida Department of Corrections would not release details on these items.
Gore also had the opportunity to grant a final media interview, but declined it.
While Gore was on death watch, prison officers checked him every 30 minutes to make sure he had not harmed himself, according to prison officials. During Gore’s last week, officers have had 24-hour in-person surveillance on him.
Shortly before 6 p.m., officers are scheduled to escort Gore through a quarter mile-long corridor to Florida’s execution chamber.
The chamber is a small room with hospital-white walls that are bare, except for a telephone, several mirrors and a large digital clock that hangs on one wall. A black curtain covers the execution witness room window.
Gore’s executioner will be an anonymous private citizen who is paid $150.
Extra prison staff will be on duty inside and outside the prison for heightened security. Highway patrols will keep the traffic moving across the street from the prison, where media representatives and protesters are expected.
“The atmosphere at the prison will be more somber,” said Randall Polk, assistant warden at the prison. “On that day, the staff is respectful, the inmates calm down. If you can get one of the inmates to tell you the truth, they’ll tell you they quiet down out of respect.”
Polk said the prison’s execution team was scheduled to perform a mock execution about a week ago, mimicking the method Gore has chosen for his death — lethal injection.
Under Florida law, inmates awaiting execution can choose death by electric chair or lethal injection, although lethal injection is the primary method. No inmate has chosen electrocution since lethal injection was instituted in 2000.
Gore would be the first of five executed Treasure Coast inmates to have lethal injection as his death method. The last executed Treasure Coast inmate was John Earl Bush of Fort Pierce, who was electrocuted in 1996.
A last-chance appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court might delay Gore’s execution, but likely not for long, said Robert Batey, a criminal law professor at Stetson University in Central Florida.
“It is the responsibility of defense attorneys, especially in a death case, to raise any last-minute issues that he or she might raise in order to keep their client alive,” Batey said. “But only if there are claims that have not been raised and could not have previously been raised, then the courts might say they need to … have a more deliberate process that might result in a stay of execution and lengthen the death penalty process.
“But typically, last-minute filings are dispatched quite quickly by the court system, and the execution is carried out.”
DEATH WATCH TIMELINE
After the governor signs the death warrant
The warden at Florida State Prison selects two executioners, who are 18 years old or older and are trained to perform an execution. The anonymous executioners are paid $150 each.
The warden designates the members of the execution team, who will perform such tasks as moving the inmate to the gurney and mixing the lethal chemicals.
Lethal chemicals are purchased and stored securely.
A week before the execution
The execution team reviews the inmate’s medical file and gives him a physical examination, making sure no medical issues will interfere with the administration of the lethal injection.
The execution team performs a mock execution.
A food service director will prepare the inmate’s last meal.
The inmate will shower.
Lethal injection chemicals are prepared. The inmate will be offered an intramuscular injection to ease anxiety.
The execution team establishes telephone communication with the governor’s office.
The warden reads the death warrant to the inmate.
Officers strap the inmate to the gurney in the execution chamber and insert one intravenous line on each of his arms.
Witnesses are secured in the witness room. The witness room curtains open. The public address system is turned on.
The inmate says final words, if he chooses.
The primary executioner administers the lethal injection.
A physician pronounces the inmate’s time of death.