The American state of Florida is set to execute Mark James Asay with an experimental injection. His death warrant comes for the first time in over 18 months, since debates on his execution were considered by the nation’s Supreme Court.
Assay has been imprisoned on charges of racially motivated murders.
He will be forced to breathe his last after a shot from an untested lethal injection formula.
The execution was initially crippled by America’s highest court until Thursday when approval for the drug etomidate was issued.
The defendant’s lawyers are expected to tender appeals against the judgement, but if the U.S. Supreme Court stands firm on its decision, Asay will be executed by lethal injection after 6 p.m., CNN reported.
The court ruled that Florida’s old system was illegal because it gave judges, instead of juries, the power to pass capital punishments. Since then, Florida’s Legislature passed a law requiring a unanimous jury for death penalty recommendations.
Asay, 53, stands accused and convicted by a jury for committing two Jacksonville murders in 1987. Prosecutors say his crime was based on racial prejudice.
The scheduled death will go down in history as Florida’s first capital sentence since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ban on its practice, having declared the previous method for sentencing people to death as unconstitutional.
Florida Supreme Court approved the lethal injection known as etomidate [an anesthetic] and two other drugs which will be readily available.
Asay, the white supremacist who fatally shot a 34-year-old black man Robert Lee Booker after using racial slurs, was also responsible for the death of Robert McDowell, 26, prosecutors said.
The second victim McDowell was of a mixed race — white and Hispanic.
Prosecutors said Asay hired a prostitute (McDowell) without realizing he was a male in women’s clothing. The accused murderer shot him six times after discovering his gender.
Since Florida’s death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a data from the Death Penalty Information Center confirms that at least, a total of 20 black men have faced the hangman’s noose for killing white victims.
A total of 92 Florida inmates also faced the capital punishment within that time frame.
Etomidate is the first of three drugs approved in Florida’s new execution mixture. It is replacing midazolam, which has become scarce due to refusals from drug companies to produce the cocktail for executions.
Rocuronium bromide [a paralytic] is the second injection and lastly, potassium acetate which stops the heart.
Asay’s execution is Florida’s first time with potassium acetate since the drug was erroneously used during a 2015 execution in Oklahoma. No other state has used it, according to an execution expert.
Despite the state’s high court approval for etomidate, the drug’s untested abilities has been called to question by critics.
However, state corrections officials claim the drug’s efficacy has been reviewed. No clue was offered on how the conclusion was reached.
Juror’s recommended death penalty in Asay’s case (for both murders). The votes turned out 9-3 although the state law requires a unanimous decision to carry out a death penalty.
The high court of Florida ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s requirement was inapplicable to older cases.
Gov. Rick Scott will, by this 24th execution of inmates since he assumed office, record an unprecedented number of deaths in Florida history.