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Scott issues temporary stay of execution for killer to determine if he is insane

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 by Dara Kam

From The Associated Press:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is asking a panel of psychiatrists to determine whether a convicted murderer is insane.

Scott on Wednesday agreed to temporarily stay the pending execution of John Errol Ferguson in order to let doctors decide whether or not he understands the death penalty and why he is about to be executed.

The governor in an executive order called for the examination to take place on Oct. 1. Scott says if Ferguson is competent he will proceed with the already-scheduled execution on Oct. 16.

Sixty-four-year-old Ferguson was convicted of murdering six people execution-style in a drug-related crime. Ferguson was also convicted for the murders of two Hialeah teenagers.

Ferguson’s attorneys say that he has long exhibited symptoms of schizophrenia and has been plagued by hallucinations and delusions.

Supreme Court rejects latest Valle lethal injection appeal

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court rejected yet another appeal by Manuel Valle, slated to be executed tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Tuesday’s ruling is the third appeal by Valle’s lawyers rejected by courts this summer. His execution by lethal injection has twice been put on hold, first by the Florida Supreme Court and later by federal judges in Atlanta.

Valle’s lawyers have questioned the state’s use of a new drug in the lethal injection “cocktail.” The Department of Corrections has substituted the compound sodium pentobarbital for the first of the three-drug lethal injection protocol, a change forced by a manufacturer’s discontinuing of the drug formerly used.

British neurologist David Nicholl, who has ties to pentobarbital’s manufacturer Lundbeck Inc., filed the latest appeal with the state’s highest court, arguing that the use of the drug – also known as Nembutal – for executions violates the federal Controlled Substances Act which prohibits its dispensation except for legitimate medical purposes. The Court disagreed.

Since his conviction for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena, Valle has been sentenced to death and re-sentenced three times in legal wrangling that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty in 1987. Courts later reaffirmed his death penalty conviction.

Valle has another appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. His is the first – and only – death warrant signed by Gov. Rick Scott since he assumed office in January.

Valle execution back on

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott scheduled Sept. 28 as the date for the execution of convicted Miami-Dade cop killer Manuel Valle.

Valle’s execution has been put off twice this summer, first by the Florida Supreme Court and later by federal judges in Atlanta. Those stays, however, have been lifted as courts have effectively endorsed the state’s use of the compound pentobarbital for the lethal injection needed, a change forced by a manufacturer’s discontinuing the three-drug round of chemicals formerly used.

Valle’s execution has been set for 4 p.m. that day, a Wednesday. Valle is the first death warrant signed by Florida’s new governor.

Since his conviction for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena, Valle has been sentenced to death and re-sentenced three times in legal wrangling that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty in 1987. Courts later reaffirmed his death penalty conviction.

Federal court postpones Manuel Valle execution

Friday, September 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

A federal court in Atlanta has postponed the execution of convicted cop killer Manuel Valle until at least Thursday.

It’s the second time since Gov. Rick Scott signed Valle’s death warrant – the only one Scott has signed since taking office in January – earlier this year that his execution has been stayed.

Valle, who has spent more than three decades on Death Row, was slated to be put to death by lethal injection on Tuesday.

The Florida Supreme Court in July put his execution, originally set for Aug. 2, on hold after his lawyers raised objections to the state’s use of a new drug as part of the lethal injection formula. Department of Corrections officials substituted pentobarbital for a drug no longer manufactured as the first of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail.”

Since his conviction for the 1978 killing of Coral Gables police officer Louis Pena, Valle has been sentenced to death and re-sentenced three times in legal wrangling that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty in 1987. Courts later reaffirmed his death penalty conviction.

On Aug. 23, the Florida Supreme Court On Tuesday, the court approved the Department of Corrections’ new drug protocol, saying it did not pose a substantial risk of harm to the inmate.

Valle’s lawyers are also pursuing other appeals, including with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Manuel Valle execution set for Sept. 6

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida officials are scheduled to put Manuel Valle to death on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. after the Florida Supreme Court yesterday approved the state’s new lethal injection drug cocktail.

Valle has spent more than three decades on Death Row and has avoided execution through a series of appeals, reversals and other legal wranglings that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty. In all, courts have re-sentenced Valle to death three times.

Valle, who was born in Cuba, was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of a Coral Gables police officer, Louis Pena. Valle, now 61, shot Pena after the police officer pulled him over on a routine traffic stop.

The state’s highest court put the execution, originally ordered by Gov. Rick Scott for Aug. 2, back on track on Tuesday with an order approving the state’s new lethal injection drug protocol.

The court in July halted the execution and ordered a hearing on the Department of Corrections’ new drug – pentobarbital – substituted for a drug no longer manufactured and used as the first of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail.”

On Tuesday, the court approved the new protocol, saying it did not pose a substantial risk of harm to the inmate. Valle’s lawyers argued that pentobarbital, also known as Nebutal, may not render him unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain induced by the following drugs used in the procedure.

But the Supreme Court agreed with three other federal courts who also found no credible evidence that administering the drug in the method proscribed – 10 times the dosage required for sedation – would not render Valle unconscious. Pentobarbital is also used in animal euthanasia and assisted suicide, but its manufacturer has asked prison officials as well as Scott not to use it to kill prisoners.

Lawyers for Valle are still pursuing a challenge against lethal injection in federal court and other appeals, including with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supreme Court signs off on new lethal injection drug; execution a go

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court approved a new lethal injection drug and removed a stay on the execution of cop-killer Manuel Valle.

The court unanimously ruled that the use of the new drug – pentobarbital – as part of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail” does not inflict undue pain, ignoring the objections of Valle’s lawyers.

A divided Supreme Court last month ordered a Miami judge to hold a hearing on the new drug, an anesthetic Department of Corrections officials decided in June to replace sodium thiopental. Sodium thiopental’s manufacturer stopped making the drug early this year, leaving corrections officials in states like Florida scrambling to find a substitute.

A unanimous court agreed Tuesday with Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan’s ruling earlier this month that the drug does not raise a substantial risk of harm. Three federal courts have also signed off on the drug. Florida’s protocol requires a dosage of the drug – also used in animal euthanasia and assisted suicide – 10 times the dosage used for sedation.

Lawyers for Valle, who has spent 33 years on Death Row, argued that using pentobarbital, also known as Nembutal, as an anesthetic may not render him unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain induced by the following drugs used in the lethal injection procedure.

The Danish manufacturer of the drug, Lundbeck Inc., twice pleaded with Gov. Rick Scott not to use the drug, saying it “contradicts everything we are in business to do.”

Scott signed a death warrant for Valle – his only since taking office in January – late in May.

Danish manufacturer of lethal injection drug twice asked Scott not to use it to kill prisoners

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Danish manufacturer of the controversial drug now being used to execute prisoners pleaded with Gov. Rick Scott twice to abandon its use, saying it “contradicts everything we are in business to do.”

Staffan Schüberg, president of Lundbeck Inc., wrote to Scott twice before the first-term governor signed his first death warrant ordering Manuel Valle to be executed on Aug. 2.

“We are adamantly opposed to the use of Nembutal to execute prisoners because it contradicts everything we are in business to do – provide therapies that improve people’s lives,” Schüberg wrote to Scott on May 16.

On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court stayed the execution of Manuel Valle until Sept. 1 and ordered a hearing on the new protocol. Attorney General Pam Bondi yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the stay.

The evidentiary hearing on the drug is scheduled for tomorrow morning in Miami.

(more…)

High Court postpones August execution, orders hearing on new drug

Monday, July 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court has stayed the execution of convicted cop killer Manuel Valle for nearly one month and ordered a hearing on a new lethal injection drug before it can be used.

Valle’s was the first death warrant – and only – signed by Gov. Rick Scott since taking office in January. Scott signed the warrant on June 30 and set the execution for Aug. 2. Valle was convicted of killing a Coral Gables police officer Luis Pena in 1978.

The Florida Department of Corrections is set to use a new drug “cocktail” for the first time in Valle’s execution. In January, the company that manufactures the sedative sodium thiopental, one of the three drugs used to in lethal injections, stopped making the drug, leaving corrections officials in states like Florida that execute prisoners scrambling for a replacement. DOC will now use pentobarbitol, manufactured by the Danish drug company Lundbeck Inc.

The court also ordered DOC to release any correspondence with Lundbeck regarding the use of its drug for executions. The Danish manufacturer has stopped selling the drug to distributors who intend to sell it for use in executions.

The court ordered a hearing on the drug for Aug. 5 in Miami, set oral arguments if necessary on the drug issue for Aug. 24 and postponed Valle’s execution until Sept. 1.

Today, the Supreme Court ordered a hearing on the new drug by Aug. 5,

Florida Supreme Court nixes cop killer execution because of shoddy prosecution

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Supreme Court today threw out the death sentence of convicted cop killer Paul Beasley Johnson because “the record here is so rife with evidence of previously undisclosed prosecutorial misconduct that we have no choice but to grant relief.”

In October, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered Johnson to be put to death by lethal injection in November.

The high court stayed the execution and heard oral arguments on the case in which Johnson was convicted of going on a drug-induced killing spree in Polk County in 1981. Johnson was convicted of murdering three men, including a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy.

In its ruling today, the court found that prosecutors intentionally got a jailhouse informer to get information from Johnson, take notes and give the notes to investigators. Prosecutors then lied about their role in soliciting the information at Johnson’s trial in 1981.

At a later trial in 1988, a different prosecutor used the same testimony that helped persuade the jury to hand down a 7-5 vote in favor of the death penalty, the court ruled today.

Johnson’s death sentence is now thrown out and he will have to be resentenced.

The court blamed Hardy Pickard, the original prosecutor, for today’s ruling.

“His misconduct tainted the State‘s case at every stage of the proceedings and irremediably compromised the integrity of the entire 1988 penalty phase proceeding. This is not a case of overzealous advocacy, but rather a case of deliberately misleading both the trial court and this Court. It must be emphasized that in our American legal system there is no room for such misconduct, no matter how disturbing a crime may be or how unsympathetic a defendant is. The same principles of law apply equally to cases that have stirred passionate public outcry as to those that have not,” the ruling reads.

“In our system of justice, ends do not justify means. Rather, experience teaches that the means become the end and that irregular and untruthful arguments lead to unreliable results. Lawlessness by a defendant never justifies lawless conduct at trial…The State must cling to the higher standard even in its dealings with those who do not. Accordingly, we must grant relief,” the opinion concludes.

Justice Ricky Polston dissented and Justices Peggy Quince and Charles Canady recused themselves.

Crist sets Nov. 4 execution for cop killer Paul Johnson

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a death warrant for Paul Beasley Johnson, a convicted murderer who went on a killing spree after a drug binge 28 years ago.

paul-beasley-johnsonJohnson, 60, was found guilty of the 1981 murders of a cab driver, a good Samaritan who gave Johnson a ride and a deputy in Lakeland.

After getting high on crystal meth and running out of drugs, Johnson robbed and killed cab driver William Evans in Polk County. He then approached Amy Reid and Darrell Beasley in the parking lot of a restaurant and asked them for a ride to a friend’s house. Johnson asked the pair to pull over in a wooded area so that he could go to the bathroom and then shot and killed Beasley. Reid escaped and called the Polk County Sheriff’s office.

Johnson then started a shoot-out with two deputies who responded to Reid’s call. They later found the body of a third deputy, Theron Burnham, in a drainage ditch. Burnham had been shot three times.

Johnson is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 4.

Marek execution still on for 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

marekThe Florida Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of execution for John Richard Marek, a convicted murderer scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. today.

Marek and Raymond Wigley were convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Adela Marie Simmons in 1983 when her car broke down on the turnpike near Stuart.

Marek has another appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. A circuit court judge on Monday also denied another hearing to Marek, who claims that Wigley killed Simmons. Wigley was sentenced to life while Marek received the death penalty. Marek’s lawyers argue that he, too, should be serving life in prison.

Marek has spent more than two decades on Florida’s Death Row. Gov. Charlie Crist ordered him to be put to death in May but the Supreme Court halted that. If the execution takes place today, Marek will be the fourth Death Row inmate to be executed since Crist took office in 2007.

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