Tag Archives: death row news

The Latest From Florida’s Death Row

Florida Passes Bill to Compensate Exonerated Death Row Inmate

Justice was a long time coming, and a day late.

But it did arrive, with the eleventh-hour passage of a bill Friday that will let Florida pay James Richardson for wrongly convicting him of murder and imprisoning him for 21 years. After years of failed efforts, Richardson’s supporters persuaded the Florida Legislature to change a law that had left him in a legal limbo since 1989.

The Senate took the final step, passing the bill unanimously at 9:15 p.m., in the closing minutes of the lawmakers’ 60-day session.

New Death Sentence: Judge Gives Death Sentence to Quentin Truehill

A death sentence given for the man who kidnapped and killed an FSU grad student and dumped his body in St. Augustine.

A St. Johns County jury recommended the death sentence for Quentin Truehill in March. He was convicted in February of first degree murder and kidnapping.

Custody Still in Flux for Flagler Killer’s Daughter:

Kyla was 1 year old on Aug. 21, 2007, when her father, William Gregory, sneaked into a Flagler Beach house and killed Kyla’s 17-year-old mother, Skyler Meekins, and her 22-year-old boyfriend, Daniel Dyer. Gregory was convicted of first-degree murder in April 2011 and now sits on death row.

Kyla is now 7 and where she will spend the rest of her childhood remains unclear.

Nelson Serrano’s Lawyers Seek New Trial

Condemned mass murderer Nelson Serrano, who’s on Florida’s death row for gunning down four people at a Bartow factory in 1997, should get a new trial because recently discovered evidence has put the jury’s 2006 guilty verdict in doubt, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Florida Death Row Inmate Seeks Clemency in Last Chance Before Execution Date is Set

The case of Charles Finney, a 60-year-old man on death row in Florida, is now before the clemency authorities. He maintains that he did not commit the murder for which he was sentenced to death. In Florida, an execution date is set if and when clemency is denied.

The Florida Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction and death penalty sentence of a Pensacola woman convicted of beating a 19-year-old with a crowbar, shocking her with a stun gun and then setting her on fire, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

In 2012, Tina Lasonya Brown, 43, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Audreanna Zimmerman.

Editorial: Don’t Miss This Opportunity to Reform the Florida Death Penalty

The death penalty is likely to be with us until the U.S. Supreme Court or the Florida Legislature undergoes serious change. But whether one is an opponent of the death penalty (as the ACLU surely is) or a proponent of state executions, we should all insist that the possibility of horrible and irreversible error in Florida’s implementation of the death penalty is minimized.

 

That is the point of legislation pending in both Florida’s House and Senate — SB 334 by Sen. Thad Altman R-Melbourne, and HB 467 Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez, D-Miami, both entitled “Sentencing in Capital Felonies.” Sadly, it does not appear that either chamber is willing to take up this issue.

Florida Judge Who Imposed Death Penalty Reflects on the Practice

It was Ulmer who presided over the murder trial of John Henry, whose death warrant was recently signed by Gov. Rick Scott and who is scheduled to be executed June 18 if doctors determine he is sane.

In Ulmer’s court, Henry was convicted of repeatedly stabbing his wife, Suzanne, in the neck while her 5-year-old son was in another room in their Zephyrhills home. Henry covered her with a rug, smoked a cigarette and then drove his stepson to a wooded area in Hillsborough County, where he stabbed the boy to death.

When it came time for sentencing, Ulmer appeared more shaken than Henry. His voice quavered as he read the declaration the state required with any death sentence.

Guest Column: Florida’s Death Penalty is Archaic

It is irrefutable folks; we kill a lot of innocent people. If that wasn’t bad enough, because of our lengthy appeals process, killing people is very expensive. It is time to bring a little more sanity to our punitive approach.

 

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The Latest From Florida’s Death Row

Jury Recommends Death Penalty for Brandon Bradley in Brevard Deputy Murder: 

The jury which convicted Brandon Bradley of murder recommended he receive the death sentence for the murder of Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill during a traffic stop in 2012.

A judge will now decide whether to accept the recommendation, or hand down a life sentence.

The vote was 10-2, and revealed to the court after three hours of deliberations.

Read more on the case here.

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Toney Davis: 

The Court ruled against Davis’s appeal of his conviction for the 1995 rape and murder of Caleasha Cunningham in Duval County. The case summary from the Florida Commission on Capital Cases is as follows:

Toney Davis lived with Gwen Cunningham from September 1992 until 12/09/92.  On 12/09/92, Gwen Cunningham left her two-year-old daughter, Caleasha, in the care of Davis while she ran an errand.  An acquaintance of Davis, Thomas Moore, arrived at the apartment around 12:45 p.m.  Davis answered the door with Caleasha draped over his arm.  Davis told Moore that Caleasha had choked on a French fry, and while Moore called 911, Davis gave Caleasha mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Prior to the 911 call, neighbors reported hearing thumping noises and Davis’ raised voice coming from the apartment.

Caleasha was wet, unconscious, and had blood in her mouth when she was examined at the apartment.  She was naked from the waist down, although she was fully clothed when Gwen Cunningham left the apartment.  Caleasha was revived, but later died on 12/10/92.

The emergency room doctor who examined Caleasha noticed bruising, swelling of the brain, and pools of blood in the skull, as well as injuries that suggested vaginal penetration by a penis, finger, or other object.  The cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage, caused by four blows to the head.

Caleasha’s hair bow was found in the bed and her blood was found on the sheet, pillowcase, in the bathroom, and on the crotch of Davis’ shorts and underwear.

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence for Robert Hendrix: 

Robert Hendrix, 47, was convicted in the August 1990 murders of his cousin Elmer Scott and Scott’s wife, Michelle, in Lake County. According to the Orlando Sentinel,  Scott was killed to keep him from testifying in an upcoming armed robbery case that could have resulted in Hendrix serving life in prison. Scott’s wife was then killed because she could identify Hendrix.

Hendrix is slated for execution on April 23. His attorneys argued that he had ineffective counsel, that the trial judge was biased, and that the prosecutors committed a Brady violation by withholding evidence about an informer. However, the Court ruled that his claims were without merit, and at this time his execution is set to proceed.

 

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Florida’s Timely Justice Act Challenged in State Supreme Court

Attorneys for a group of Florida’s death row inmates have filed a challenge to the newly passed Timely Justice Act, which would speed executions in Florida. (Yours truly has not yet been able to blog about the law at this point, but you can find a wealth of articles about it, like this one from Slate and this one from The Miami Herald.)

The Palm Beach Post has an article detailing the challenge which I’ve pasted below. You can also read the original here as well as an Associated Press story on the suit here.

By Dara Kam

Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — Attorneys representing Death Row inmates have filed a challenge to a law aimed at speeding up executions, saying the “Timely Justice Act” is an unconstitutional power grab by the Legislature and violates convicts’ constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday with the Florida Supreme Court is led by two lawyers — Neal Dupree, capital collateral regional counsel south; and Bill Jennings, capital collateral regional counsel middle. They lead the state agencies that represent Death Row inmates in postconviction proceedings in their respective Florida districts.

Dozens of lawyers and more than 150 inmates awaiting execution joined the suit against Attorney General Pam Bondi and the state of Florida.

The suit was filed less than two weeks after Gov. Rick Scott signed the measure into law. “We will defend it,” Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said in an email.

Scott’s office has launched a public-relations campaign disputing reports that the new law abbreviates judicial rights, insisting instead that the law “makes technical amendments to current law and provides clarity and transparency to legal proceedings.”

Florida has 405 inmates on Death Row. The average length of time between conviction and execution is more than two decades.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, requires the Florida Supreme Court to certify to the governor when a Death Row inmate’s appeals have been exhausted. The governor will have 30 days to sign a death warrant once the capital clemency process is complete.

The law also creates time limits for production of public records in postconviction cases and imposes penalties on defense lawyers deemed ineffective.

Dupree and Jennings asked the Florida Supreme Court to issue an emergency injunction blocking the law, warning it will create a “flood of death warrants that will inundate the courts” and diminish the court’s review of capital cases. They also requested that the court hear oral arguments in the case.

If the law is not halted, “the process will have the unconstitutional and irreversible result of individuals being executed under a legislatively determined judicial procedure in which violations of their constitutional rights go unresolved,” the lawyers wrote in an 89-page filing. “Further, Florida history shows that diminished process can have tragic and irreversible consequences.”

The request for an injunction also includes a lengthy examination of efforts by the Supreme Court, the Legislature and previous governors to come up a more expedited yet fair death penalty procedure.

That process “cannot and should not be displaced by a lawmaking process based on political, rather than constitutional and equitable, concerns,” wrote Dupree and Jennings, joined by Martin McClain, who has represented numerous Death Row inmates, including some who have been exonerated.

The lawyers rely on many of the same arguments used by the Supreme Court when it struck down the 2000 Death Penalty Reform Act, the Legislature’s last attempt to speed up executions. The 200 law imposed time limits on appeals and created a two-tiered system for direct appeals and collateral proceedings.

In much the same way, the new law imposes time lines for appeals, thereby taking away the court’s power to establish its own rules, the lawyers argued.

Among the top concerns with the new law are limits on appeals that can be made once a warrant is signed. Only 19 of the 75 prisoners executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 were put to death after their first warrant, the lawyers wrote.

According to Scott’s office, 13 Death Row inmates would fit the criteria under the new law to have a death warrant signed.

The lawsuit is a rehashing of the “same spurious arguments that have turned our death penalty into a mockery in Florida,” said state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the bill’s sponsor.

“Their stated role is to not have anyone executed on their watch. They oppose the death penalty in every case and use all legal filings necessary to delay the inevitable. And that’s exactly what this legislation was designed to put a stop to,” he said.

Negron said he is confident the court will uphold the law.

But lawyers for the condemned argued in the brief that the new process lacks an understanding of the complexities of the process and imposes restrictions on federal appeals.

The Legislature “has made profoundly critical decisions determining what judicial vehicles are available to capital defendants prior to the State taking the ultimate punitive act of terminating their lives, yet it seems the Legislature does not have an understanding of those vehicles and their names. Unless, that is, we must presume that the Legislature intended to cut off U.S. Supreme Court review of Florida death cases, which would present concerns of federalism, constitutionality and fairness beyond those addressed herein,” the lawyers wrote.

 

 

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The Latest From Florida’s Death Row

Florida Court Upholds Murder Conviction Against Man Who Killed a Jacksonville Store ClerkThe Florida Supreme Court is upholding a murder conviction against a man convicted of killing a Jacksonville convenience store clerk in 1990. The court ruled there was not enough evidence to throw out the conviction against death row inmate Anthony Mungin.

 

Florida Supreme Court Suspends Former Prosecutor Over Relationship With Judge: The Florida Supreme Court suspended the law license of a former Broward prosecutor for two years as punishment for the attorney’s too-cozy relationship with a judge during a 2007 murder trial.

The decision announced Thursday came as a blow to Howard Scheinberg, a 25-year member of the Florida Bar with no previous history of disciplinary action. The Florida Bar had agreed with a referee who recommended a one-year suspension. Scheinberg appealed that recommendation, but the court came down even harder.

Scheinberg was found guilty of professional misconduct stemming from his friendship with then-Broward Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner, a relationship documented in a series of 949 cellphone calls and 471 text messages that took place while Scheinberg was trying a murder case before Gardiner.

 

Jury Recommends Death for Florida Man Who Killed Teen: Jurors have recommended death on Thursday for a Florida Panhandle man convicted of killing a teenage Georgia girl on vacation with her family. A Walton County jury voted 12-0 that Steven Cozzie, 23, should die. Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells will make the final decision sometime in the future. Cozzie was convicted last week of first-degree murder, sexual battery, aggravated child abuse and kidnapping.

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Florida Death Row Exonerees to Attend Vigil At Tonight’s Execution

Tonight as Florida moves to execute William Van Poyck, two men who faced execution themselves will be protesting outside the prison walls.

Florida exonerees Seth Penalver, who was exonerated just six months ago, and Herman Lindsey, who was exonerated in 2009, will attend a vigil held outside Florida State Prison in Starke, to protest both the execution and the Timely Justice Act, which would increase the rate of executions in Florida.

In a press release about the vigil from Witness to Innocence, Lindsey says, “executing people and speeding up executions when 24 innocent people, so far, have been exonerated, is just plain wrong. How many more innocent people are still on Florida’s death row?”

The two men will join members of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty in standing across the street from the prison, where they usually hold signs, sing hymns and pray up until the time of execution.

Penalver, who is the most recent death row exoneree in the nation, said in the release, “It’s a sad day in Florida when we are executing people when other states are ending executions and abolishing the death penalty. The Governor refuses to give me five minutes to meet with him after the state of Florida spent 18 years punishing me and sentencing me to death for a crime I did not commit. I want to tell him my story and ask him to veto the Timely Justice Act, which will increase the risk of executing innocent people.”

Related Reading: 

Florida Set to Execute William Van Poyck Tonight

“I Have 21 Days Left To Live”: Counting Down To An Execution

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“I Have 21 Days Left To Live”: Counting Down To An Execution

“Dear Sis~
I’ve got 25 days left to live.  It isn’t normal to be able to write something like that, and that sense of surrealism permeates every hour down here.”

William Van Poyck, scheduled for execution tomorrow night, has maintained a blog for years now, writing letters to his sister which she then posts on his site. His letters cover everything from literature to politics to popular culture, as well as detailing the hidden happenings behind the secretive prison walls. Oftentimes Van Poyck has been the only source detailing inmate deaths and suicides on Florida’s death row, and he regularly provides an insider’s account of executions.

However, it is now the approach of his own execution that Van Poyck is detailing, after Gov. Scott signed his death warrant on May 3.

“Today Governor Scott signed my death warrant and my execution date has been scheduled for June 12th, at 6pm.  I wasn’t really surprised when they showed up at my cell door with the chains and shackles; for the last month or  so I’ve had a strong premonition that my warrant was about to be signed.”

Van Poyck, 58, was convicted in the death of corrections officer Fred Griffis, who was fatally shot in a 1987 escape attempt. Van Poyck and another inmate, Frank Valdez, ambushed two guards in a prison van during transport of another prisoner, James O’Brien. Van Poyck has always maintained that Valdez, who was later stomped to death by prison guards, was the shooter.

Van Poyck’s letters now have a much more personal tone and reveal a first-person look at what it is like to face execution, and the preparations and procedures that go along with it. Below are some samples from the thoughts of a man counting down his final days:

There are now three of us down here on death watch; all our executions are spaced 2 weeks apart.  The guy with senior status (Elmer) is set to die on May 29th, 2 weeks before me….He’s resigned to his fate and I hear him pacing the floor a lot, a pacing that is gradually morphing into a listless shuffling, as if all hope has deflated from his body, like air leaking from a punctured tire.

***

I understand there are usually about two dozen witnesses to these executions and I sometimes wonder about those who will be at mine, unknown, faceless men rooting for me to die, happy to see me breathe my last breath.

***

On Tuesday they came and measured me for my execution/burial suit.  Sometime soon I’ll be given the details on how “the body” will be disposed of following the legally required autopsy (will my cause of death really be a mystery?).  I understand the State will pay for a cremation should I choose this form of disposal (I do) and my ashes will be available at a Gainesville Funeral home; but don’t quote me on that yet.

***

I gotta tell you, Sis, there’s a big difference between contemplating your death in the abstract and seriously considering it when it’s an absolute, undeniable soon-to-occur fact…I got little sleep the first week, perhaps 2 hours a night and then I was up and wide awake at 2:00 a.m., mind racing, thoughts all a-jumble, despite my best breathing and meditation techniques….This still happens a dozen times a day, and more at night.

***

I’ve already thrown or given away 95% of my personal property, the stuff that for years seemed so important.  All those great books I’ll never get to read; reams and reams of legal work I’ve been dragging around, and studying, for 2 decades and which has suddenly lost its relevance.

My magazines and newspapers stack up unread; I have little appetite to waste valuable, irreplaceable hours reading up on current events.  Does it really matter to me now what’s happening in the Middle East, or on Wall Street, or how my Miami Dolphins are looking for the upcoming new season?  What’s the point?

***

The other day I caught myself reaching for my daily vitamin.  Really?, I wondered, as the absurdity hit me.

***

Today my neighbor, Elmer, went on Phase II of death watch, which begins 7 days prior to execution.  They remove all your property from your cell while an officer sits in front of your cell 24/7 recording everything you do.  Staff also performs a “dry run” or “mock execution”, basically duplicating the procedures that will occur 7 days later.

This is when you know you’re making the final turn off the back stretch, you know your death is imminent, easily within reach, you can count it by hours instead of by days.

***

Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I’ll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live….This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days.

***

All is well with me here in the death house.  I’ve been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage.  The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I’m honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey.

The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God.  This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.

Related Reading:

Florida Set to Execute William Van Poyck Tonight

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Execution of Marshall Lee Gore Set to Move Forward As Planned

It appears the execution of Marshall Lee Gore, slated for lethal injection on June 24, will proceed as scheduled, according to the latest court rulings.

Gore, who was given two death sentences for the 1988 killings of Susan Roark and Robyn Novick, at one point received a temporary stay after his attorneys argued that he was insane and should not be executed.

Gov. Rick Scott rescinded that stay on Saturday, June 1, after a three-doctor commission examined Gore and determined him mentally competent to stand execution.

Then on Thursday, June 6, the Florida Supreme Court denied Gore’s motion for a stay, saying there was no “substantive reason for granting a stay.”

Currently no other appeals have been filed and Gore’s execution is scheduled to move forward as planned.

Related Reading:

Killer Ruled Competent; Execution Moves Forward

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The Latest Headlines From Florida’s Death Row

Lots of headlines coming out of Florida’s death row lately. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve seen over the past few weeks but haven’t posted about.

As State Hastens Executions, Doubt Cast on Guilt of Death Row Inmate: A collection of new evidence in a little-known double-murder case may exonerate a man on Florida’s death row. The development comes at a time when Florida is moving to accelerate the pace of executions.

Catholic Bishops Ask Scott to Commute Three Death Sentences:  The pace of executions may be picking up in Florida. Governor Rick Scott has signed five death warrants so far this year, including three in the last month. That prompted the state’s Catholic bishops to write Scott, urging him to commute the three men’s sentences.

“Prudence calls for us to be careful about how we are going to carry out these death sentences”, Florida Catholic Conference Director Michael McCarron said. “I think that anytime you begin to escalate this process, you run that risk, so it needs to be done very carefully.”

Michael Putney: Death Penalty Politics in Florida: Keeping convicted murderers on Florida’s death row for an average of 13 years is much too long. But if it is the price we must pay for justice, then pay we must. The governor needs to veto the Timely Justice Act.

Riverview Man Who Killed Seminole Couple Wins Death Row Reprieve: A Riverview man won a reprieve from death row when the Florida Supreme Court ruled he had received poor legal representation during his 1998 sentencing for killing a Seminole couple during a warehouse robbery.

The court’s decision means Michael J. Griffin will have to be resentenced for the execution-style murders of Thomas and Patricia McCallops on Oct. 6, 1995. He will be able to argue that several circumstances – including a childhood brain injury, cocaine addiction, his own history of depression and his family’s history of mental illness and substance abuse – affected him enough that he should be sentenced to life in prison instead of death.

Jacksonville Killer Avoids Death Sentence For 2009 Murder: DeShawn Leon Green has avoided Death Row for a second time. But prosecutors will have one more chance to execute him. Circuit Judge James Daniel sentenced Green, 28, to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of 24-year-old Robert Kearney. The jury that convicted Green recommended he get the death penalty by a 7-5 vote, but Daniel rejected that recommendation.

Delmer Smith is Sentenced to DeathNearly four years after brutally murdering Kathleen Briles inside her Terra Ceia home, Delmer Smith learned that he will die as punishment for the crime. Judge Peter Dubensky sentenced Smith to death by lethal injection after saying that his crime of murder was among the worst of the worst. It was a sentence Kathleen Briles’ family has been waiting nearly four years to hear.

Despite facing the rest of his life on death row, Smith spoke out for the first time, still maintaining his innocence.

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Florida Death Penalty Challenge:  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a case that tested the constitutionality of part of Florida’s system for imposing the death penalty. The 1991 case, Evans v. Crews, stemmed from a customary practice in Florida of judges holding hearings and making factual findings on aggravating and mitigating factors to help determine whether to impose death sentences.

A 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision, known as Ring v. Arizona, held that juries, not judges, must determine the existence of aggravating factors in death-penalty cases. As a result, a U.S. District judge in 2011 found that Florida’s death-penalty sentencing process was unconstitutional. But that ruling was overturned by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Florida Justices Uphold Death Sentence For Theodore Rodgers:  Florida Supreme Court justices denied an appeal from attorneys for Theodore Rodgers Jr., who was sentenced to death in 2004 for fatally shooting Florence Teresa Henderson in front of three children at Henderson’s day care on Savoy Drive.

Fla. Supreme Court To Hear Xbox Murders Appeal:  Nearly nine years after the grisly discovery of six bodies in a central Florida home, an attorney for one of the convicted murderers argued Thursday that a mistrial should have been sought in the case and that his client had been wrongly portrayed as the ringleader.

Christopher Anderson, an appellate attorney for Death Row inmate Troy Victorino, told the Florida Supreme Court that another defendant in what became known as the “Xbox murders” refused to be cross-examined while testifying during the trial. Anderson contended that Victorino’s trial attorneys improperly failed to seek a mistrial when that refusal took place.

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Tonight’s Execution: Elmer Carroll, Florida

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Correction: This story was mistakenly autopublished a day early. Elmer Carroll is scheduled to be executed Wednesday, May 29, not Tuesday, May 28.

Update: Elmer Carroll has been executed.

Tonight Florida carried out the first of three scheduled executions in the next six weeks, with the lethal injection of Elmer Leon Carroll.

According to the case summary, Carroll, 56, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan. From the summary:

“Robert Rank attempted to wake his stepdaughter, Christine McGowan, on the morning of 10/30/90 and, when she did not answer his calls, Rank went to McGowan’s room.  He noticed her door, which was open the night before, was closed.  Upon entering the room, Rank discovered McGowan face down on the bed.  She had blood between her legs and her body was cold to the touch.  Rank then noticed that the front door was slightly open and his construction truck was missing.  Police investigators at the scene determined that McGowan had been raped and strangled to death, and issued a bulletin regarding the stolen construction truck.

Upon hearing a radio bulletin regarding the stolen construction truck, Debbie Hyatt notified police that she remembered seeing the abandoned truck and a man, later identified as Elmer Carroll, walking easterly away from the truck.  As a result of Hyatt’s tip, Carroll was arrested.  When law enforcement officers searched Carroll for weapons, they found a box cutter and the keys to the stolen construction truck.

Information presented at trial revealed that Carroll was a resident of the halfway house located next door to the victim’s home and that Carroll had remarked to other residents about the “cute” girl next door.  DNA evidence recovered from the scene matched Carroll’s saliva, semen and pubic hair.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, McGowan’s mother and step-father both plan to attend the execution, as well as Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton, one of the two prosecutors on the case.

“Elmer Carroll’s a monster, and he always will be,” Ashton told the Sentinel. “To feel no compassion or pity of any kind for this child, that is the very definition of a monster in my mind.”

Carroll’s attorneys filed an appeal to stop the execution, arguing that:

1) he was mentally ill,

2) that the nature of Florida’s death penalty was unconstitutional under the 8th amendment,

3) that his execution would be unconstitutional under the 8th amendment because of the “inordinate length of time that Mr. Carroll has spend on death row” and

4) that his clemency process was applied in “an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

However, the appeal was denied by the Florida Supreme Court, who affirmed the lower court’s ruling that the claims were without merit on May 15. His attorneys then took the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but on Wednesday the Court denied Carroll’s appeal, in which his lawyers argued that he should have been considered mentally ill at the time of the crime. Carroll was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. ET at Florida State Prison in Starke.

According to the Associated Press, Carroll spend his final hours with two visitors, neither of whom was family. He visited with a Catholic priest and a mitigation specialist.

Carroll’s final meal was served at 10 a.m. and consisted of eggs, bacon, biscuits, a whole sliced tomato, a fruit salad with strawberries, papaya, peaches, pineapple and tropical fruit, an avocado and a can of Carnation milk.

Carroll declined to make a final statement, and the execution began promptly at 6:01 p.m. local time. He was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m.

Related Reading:

Execution Looms For Felon Who Raped, Killed Girl, 10

Child-Killer Rapist Fails In Appeal, Faces Death May 29

US Supreme Court Denies Stay Of Execution For Florida Man

Killer Has Bacon And Eggs For Last Meal

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Two Inmate Deaths On Florida’s Death Row

Editor’s note: This story is a bit delayed, but I’ve finally returned from my travels, so posts should be more regular from this point forward.

Two Florida death row inmates have died awaiting execution, one of whom was the longest continuously serving death row inmate in the state. waiting nearly 40 years at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

Olen C. Gorby, 63, and Gary Alvord, 66, who has been on death row longer than any other inmate in Florida, both died this month on Florida’s death row.

Alvord arrived on the row on April 4, 1974 and remained there until he died Sunday, May 19. The Department of Corrections has not released any more details at this time, however, his attorneys say he died of a brain tumor and was also fighting lung cancer.

Alvord was arrested, convicted and tried for the 1973 murders of Georgia Tully, 53, her daughter Ann Herrman, 36, and her granddaughter Lynne Herrman, 18. All three women had been strangled and Lynne Herrman had been raped.

Alvord was sentenced to death for the crimes in 1974. Since that time, “he has survived eight presidents, nine governors and two death warrants. Since his arrival on death row, Alvord has seen 74 other inmates continue on to the execution chamber” according to the Tampa Bay Times. From the article:

So why is Gary Alvord still alive?

The simple answer is that he is crazy. For most of his life, Alvord has been plagued by delusions and disordered thoughts that doctors have most often attributed to schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder. His condition, lawyers have argued, makes him incapable of understanding capital punishment.

Alvord’s mental illness has long plagued him, according to the story.

The son of a reportedly abusive father and a mother who suffered recurring mental breakdowns, Alvord spent much of a his childhood in institutions in his native Michigan. In 1960, at age 13, he was sent to live in a state mental hospital.

As he grew, doctors noted clear signs that the young man was disturbed. He threatened to kill doctors and other patients. He tried to escape from the hospital numerous times. After one escape, he was alleged to have been involved in a shooting. Those who knew him say he was a prolific thief.

In 1967, while on release, he kidnapped and raped a 10-year-old girl.

As he awaited trial, Alvord was hospitalized after he swallowed five spoons, a razor blade, nuts and bolts, shower attachments and empty rolled-up toothpaste tubes. He said that “voices from the spirit world” told him that the objects he swallowed would cure “cuts, cancer and other illnesses.”

Florida tried twice to execute Alvord, first in 1981 and again in 1984, but psychiatrists deemed him incapable of understanding his punishment. According to the Tampa Bay TimesAlvord was sent to a hospital in 1984 to be treated and restored to competence. “But doctors there refused to treat him, citing the ethical dilemma of making a patient well just so that he could be killed. He was quietly returned to death row in 1987 and remained there ever since. His final appeal expired in 1998.”

In the article, attorney Bill Sheppard, who represented Alvord for most of his time on the row, told Dan Sullivan:

“I would love for the state of Florida to tell us how much money they wasted trying to kill a guy they couldn’t kill. The death penalty is getting us nothing but broke.”

With Alvord’s death, Florida’s longest continuously serving death row inmate is now Douglas R. Meeks, who arrived on the row in March of 1975. There are a handful of other inmates who arrived earlier, but have not been on the row continuously, due to new trials or other legal wranglings.

While Alvord’s death received national coverage, Olen C. Gorby’s death has received little to no media attention.  Gorby is listed as deceased, or, in DOC terms, “released” on May 13, 2013.

According to case records, Gorby had a lengthy criminal record that spanned several states, but ended up on Florida’s death row for the 1990 killing of J.A. Raborn. According to the case summary:

Olen Gorby was living in a homeless shelter at the time of the crime.  The victim, J.A. Raborn, who was handicapped, picked up men from the shelter to do odd jobs around his home.

Witnesses saw Gorby with Raborn on 05/06/90 and the next day. The victim’s neighbor saw a hand-written note on the door of the home that said that the owner was out of town and would return on 05/08/90.  This note aroused the suspicions of the neighbor, and upon entering the home, she found Raborn dead of head injuries.  Raborn had been struck in the head seven times with a claw hammer.  Raborn’s car and credit cards were missing.

Gorby’s fingerprint was found on a jar in the victim’s kitchen, and at trial, a handwriting expert testified that he had written the note left on the victim’s door.  Further evidence linking Gorby to the murder was the fact that Raborn’s credit cards were used in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.  Police found the stolen car in Texas, arrested Gorby, and extradited him to Florida.

There are no released details on Gorby’s cause of death or what will happen with his remains.

Related Reading:

Nation’s Longest Serving Death-Row Inmate Dies In Florida

A Man Too Crazy To Be Executed

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