FLORIDA ENDS SEVEN-MONTH MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS
July 18, 2007: Florida ended a moratorium on capital punishment today, spurred by a gruesomely slow execution at the end of last year, as Gov. Charlie Crist signed his first death warrant.
With a review of the state's lethal injection procedure completed after the botched December 2006 execution of Angel Diaz, Crist said changes made to the lethal injection protocol were sufficient to ensure painless executions.
"By issuing this death warrant today, Florida ends a seven-month moratorium," Crist said in a statement.
"I am confident that the training, organization and communication processes established by the Commission on Administration of Lethal Injection and adopted by the State of Florida Department of Corrections are consistent with the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution," Crist said.
Named in today's warrant was Mark Dean Schwab, sentenced to death for the kidnapping, sexual battery and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez Jr. in April 1991.
The warrant is the first signed since former Gov. Jeb Bush, like Crist a Republican, halted executions in December 2006 following the execution of Diaz, who took 34 minutes to die.
While executioners said Diaz suffered no pain, witnesses reported that he grimaced, gasped for breath and contorted as he lay strapped to a gurney for a procedure that normally takes only a few minutes.
An autopsy showed that a pair of intravenous tubes used in the process was improperly placed, administering the lethal drugs slowly into muscle tissue instead of quickly into veins.
In May, the state's top prison official announced the adoption of 37 recommendations that included additional training and oversight. Prison officials also expanded the execution chamber to make it easier for executioners to carry out their duties.Â (Sources: Reuters, 18/07/2007)