Tonight’s Execution: Manuel Pardo, Florida

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Update: Manuel Pardo has been executed.

Florida has carried out its last execution of 2012 with the lethal injection of former police officer Manuel Pardo Jr. for the 1986 killings of nine people in Miami.

About an hour before the execution was scheduled to begin, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal for a stay of execution for Pardo. There was a delay in the execution as the U.S. Supreme Court examined the lower court’s ruling, but an hour after the scheduled execution time, the high court also declined that appeal.

Pardo’s previous appeals, which claimed that he was insane at the time of the crimes, that the state was withholding public records regarding the lethal injection procedure, and that the use of a new drug could cause a painful death, violating the Eight Amendment, were all been denied by various courts.

Pardo was the first inmate executed in the state using vecuronium bromide. Presumably the switch is due to difficulties in securing sodium thiopental,  an anesthetic administered prior to the other two drugs. Back in January 2011, the Orlando Sentinel reported on the state’s problems in finding the drug after an Illinois drug company decided to stop making it.

“We do use that drug in our lethal-injection process,” then Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told the Sentinel at the time. “We are exploring other options. At this point, we’re looking at making changes to the procedure. If we change one drug, we might have to change another drug.”

Pardo spent his last hours visiting with eight relatives and friends, as well as meeting with a prison chaplain and Catholic bishop. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ann Howard described his demeanor as “calm.” For his last meal, he requested a Cuban-style meal of roasted pork chunks, white rice, red beans, fried plantains with tomato, avocado and olive oil, pumpkin pie and Cuban coffee.

Pardo’s execution was protested by the Catholic Bishops of Florida, who circulated a press release Monday saying, “Realizing that Manual Pardo, Jr. wrongfully killed instead of pursuing legal means to arrest persons violating the law, the Catholic Bishops of Florida continue to speak out against the violence of execution and plead for life in prison without possibility of parole for Mr. Pardo.

“While the Catholic Church recognizes that the state has the right to carry out the death penalty under certain circumstances, the modern penal institutions make this unnecessary as the public is protected from any further harm. We believe that even though all life may not be innocent, all life is sacred. State sanctioned killing diminishes all citizens when the State takes the life of the convicted in our name.”

The bishops held a prayer vigil Tuesday at 6 p.m., the time the execution was scheduled to start, at St. Mary Cathedral in Miami. There were also a few protesters outside the prison at 6 p.m.

Mark Elliot of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty was there and told the Miami Herald that about 45 people showed up.

“The death penalty costs Florida taxpayers $1 million a week,” Elliot said. “That money could be better used to help victims’ families or for more law enforcement.”

Pardo’s time of death was 7:47 p.m.ET, about 16 minutes after the procedure began. According to a media witness, his last words were unintelligible due to a malfunction in the death chamber’s sound system. Reporters worked with DOC employees to figure out what he said. Prison officials said his final words were, “Airborne forever. I love you, Michi baby,” referring to his daughter.

According to an Associated Press report by Tamara Lush, “Pardo also wrote a final statement that was distributed to the media, in which he claimed that he never killed any women, but ‘accepted full responsibility for killing six men.’ ”

From the statement:

“I never harmed those 3 women or any female. I took the blame as I knew I was doomed and it made no difference to me, at this time, having 6 or 9 death sentences. I don’t want this hanging over my head, especially these last few minutes of life, because my war was against men who were trafficing (sic) in narcotics and no one else!”

In another portion of the letter, he apologized to his family:

“You all are so loving and wonderful, not deserving of this nightmare….Remember Michi you are Airborne and hardcore…No tears!”

And in another section, Pardo talked about sports, including soccer and bullfighting:

“On a lighter note, as a New Yorker and loyal fan, I was happy to see my Yankees and Giants win so many championships during my lifetime.” According to the Associated Press, Pardo “said it was a lifelong dream to see Spain win the World Cup and urged the Spanish government to never stop bullfights because they are ‘a part of our culture and heritage.’ ”

Following the execution, the nephew of victim Fara Quintero gave a statement. Frank Judd expressed his thanks that Florida brought closure to his family, and said Manuel Pardo “is no soldier but rather a disturbed man whose hatred of mankind knew no mercy.”

Pardo was the third execution of 2012 in Florida and the youngest inmate executed under Governor Rick Scott.

Related Reading:

Slated for Execution, Ex-Sweetwater Cop Enjoys Cuban-Style Last Meal

Manuel Pardo Inches Closer to Execution in Florida

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