Florida set to resume executions after 18-month hiatus

Gavel, scales of justice and law books
Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WESH)—Florida Gov. Rick Scott is set to resume executions after a hiatus of more than 18 months after the U.S. Supreme court found Florida’s death sentencing procedure was flawed because it allowed judges to reach a different conclusion from juries.

As most were preparing for Independence Day, Gov. Rick Scott used his authority to ensure there will be no freedom for convicted killer Mark Asay.

The governor signed his death warrant as punishment for the murders of two men in Jacksonville in 1988. The Aug. 24 execution will be the first time in nearly 19 months since Florida used the death chamber and comes with a new controversy.

The state changed the lethal injection “cocktail,” a mix of three drugs used to induce unconsciousness and stop a person’s breathing in January. It includes a new sedative never used in executions, and a lethal drug that has only been used in one other state.

Asay’s execution will also likely come before the Florida Supreme Court rules on arguments heard last week, as to whether the governor had a legal right to take away control of murder cases from 9th Circuit State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who has vowed not to seek the death penalty. Those cases are now being handled by 5th Circuit State Attorney Brad King.

The father of local murder victim Alex Zaldivar told WESH 2 News after the court hearing in Tallahassee June 28, family members of murder victims deserve to see killers face the maximum punishment. Raphael Zaldivar added, “I’m very confident the Judges will rule for Governor Rick Scott, in his favor, and we can all move along and put these savages to death.”

There are currently 367 people on death row, 92 from Central Florida.

Since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976, 92 men and women have been executed, the last coming on Jan. 7, 2016. That man was Oscar Ray Bolin.

The state’s highest court, and a state law passed this year, require unanimous jury recommendations for capital punishment. But more than 200 condemned killers already meet the guidelines for execution, because their sentences were handed down before a key ruling in 2002.

Among the most notorious local killers on death row: Tommy Zeigler, convicted of killing his wife, in-laws, and a customer of his Winter Garden Store; Michael Bargo, the youngest on death row at age 25, and convicted of killing 15-year-old Seath Jackson in Marion County, will be resentenced; Margaret Allen, the only local woman facing death in the torture and murder of her housekeeper in Brevard county; Bessman Okafor, convicted in the Zaldivar murder in Orange county.

From Volusia County, Troy Victorino and Jerone Hunter await death in the clubbing and stabbing murders of six people in Deltona in 2004, but will also likely be re-sentenced.

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