Florida set to Resume Death Penalty, First Execution in 19 Months Scheduled for Thursday

by | Aug 23, 2017

 

Mark James Asay

Florida is set  to resume carrying out the state’s death penalty with its first execution in more than 19 months scheduled for Thursday.

Mark James Asay is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday evening for the shooting deaths of two Jacksonville men–Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell–in 1987. Asay, accused of being a white supremacist, used racial slurs when he shot Booker, an African-American.

If the execution takes place, it would mark the first time the state has used this particular combination of drugs in the lethal injection  protocol.

Florida’s protocol uses three drugs: a sedative, a paralytic and a final drug that stops the inmate’s heart.

The state will start using etomidate, which is also known by its brand name “Amidate,” as the sedative in the protocol. Florida will be the first state to use the drug as part of it lethal injection procedure.

The state had been using midazolam.

Asay’s attorney, Marty McClain, tried to stay his client’s execution by arguing earlier this month that the state should maintain the protocol that has been used in the past. The Florida Supreme Court denied the motion.

Asay was scheduled to be executed last January, but was spared when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty law saying it gave too much authority to judges. Before the ruling, juries would make a recommendation in the sentencing phase of capital cases. Judges had the final say in whether to impose the death penalty.

The Florida Legislature rewrote the law earlier this year and after some revisions ordered by the courts, the Florida Supreme Court gave the okay for executions to resume.

If Thursday’s execution takes place, it would the 24th execution ordered by Gov. Rick Scott, the most of any Florida governor since the state resumed executions n 1976.

In a letter sent to Scott earlier this week, Florida’s Catholic Bishops urged the governor to stop Asay’s execution.

“Mr. Asay’s violent acts call out for justice and should be condemned. However, life without parole is an alternative and severe sentence,” Michael Sheedy, the executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the governor.  “Each human life has a God-given dignity that is neither earned nor lost through our actions, even those that have caused great harm. We seek a state that is unequivocally and consistently pro-life, protecting human life in all stages and in all circumstances.”

 

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