Fla. holds 1st execution since botched method

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Fla. holds 1st execution since botched method

Post  Jennie on Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:17 pm


Fla. holds 1st execution since botched method

Florida on Tuesday carried out its 1st execution since a botched lethal injection procedure prompted the state to revamp the way it conducts capital punishment.

Mark Dean Schwab, who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 11-year-old boy, died at 6:15 p.m.

The execution was the initial test of Florida's new lethal injection procedure, which was instituted after Angel Diaz was executed in December 2006. Needles to inject the deadly chemicals into Diaz missed their mark and he suffered burns and extreme pain, triggering a state investigation and a moratorium.

It took 34 minutes for Diaz to die, more than twice the normal time. Schwab's execution started at 6:03 p.m. and lasted 12 minutes.

Schwab, 39, unsuccessfully challenged Florida's new procedure, claiming it could also cause pain and suffering. His latest appeal was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court hours before he was put to death for the 1991 killing Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa, a small town on the central-east coast of Florida.

When authorities opened a curtain to the death chamber, Schwab lay on the table blinking his eyes. He did not make a final statement.

Within two minutes of the first chemical being administered, Schwab's eyes were closed and his mouth slightly opened. A warden shook Schwab, called out his name and ran a finger over his eyelashes at 6:07 p.m. Schwab did not respond.

"I only wish my son had passed this peacefully," Junny's mother, Vicki Rios-Martinez said afterward. She and her husband were among 40 witnesses to the execution. The couple wore white T-shirts with the boy's picture on the front and the words "JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED" on the back.

Outside the prison, the boy's other relatives clapped and cheered when they heard Schwab had died.

About 50 death penalty opponents held a brief prayer vigil, then quietly stood by about 75 yards from the family members.

Schwab was given a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court in November as it considered the constitutionality of Kentucky's lethal injection procedure. When it ruled Kentucky's protocol was acceptable, it opened the door for Florida and other states with similar laws to resume executions.

In the Diaz execution, the executioner pushed the needle through his veins into his muscles, causing severe chemical burns on his arms. Several times during the process, Diaz could be seen grimacing and asked at one time, "What's going on?"

The Diaz case resulted in an investigation by a committee appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. Changes suggested by the panel were incorporated into new execution procedures.

One change called for the warden to assess whether the inmate is unconscious after sodium pentothal is injected into his body. Then the executioner will inject pancuronium bromide, used to paralyze his muscles, and potassium chloride, used to stop his heart.

Schwab raped and killed Junny a month after he was released early from a prison sentence he got for raping a 13-year-old boy. The case led to Florida's Junny Rios-Martinez Act of 1992, which prohibits sex offenders from early release from prison or getting credit for good behavior.

Schwab stalked the boy after seeing his photo in a newspaper for winning a kite contest.

Although Schwab claimed another man had made him kidnap and rape the boy, he was able to lead police to a footlocker in rural Brevard County where Junny's nude body was discovered.

Schwab was the 10th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court's Kentucky ruling and the 65th inmate to be executed since Florida resumed capital punishment in 1979.

Schwab becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1109th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Schwab was executed at the state's death chamber in Starke, which is about 40 miles southwest of Jacksonville.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

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