Mark James Asay - FL - 08/24/2017

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Gov. Scott schedules Florida's first execution in 18 months
July 4, 2017


Signaling a potential end to an 18-month hiatus for Florida's embattled death penalty, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday rescheduled the execution date of convicted killer Mark James Asay for Aug. 27.

"I think the execution machine is going to get started again immediately," said Pete Mills, an assistant public defender in the 10th Judicial Circuit who also serves as chairman of the Florida Public Defenders Association Death Penalty Steering Committee.

RELATED: Read The Post's 2017 Florida Legislature coverage

Asay was one of two Death Row inmates whose executions were put on hold by the Florida Supreme Court early last year after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, struck down as unconstitutional the state's death penalty sentencing system.

The federal court ruling, premised on a 2002 decision in a case known as Ring v. Arizona, found that Florida's system of allowing judges, instead of juries, to find the facts necessary to impose the death penalty was an unconstitutional violation of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury.

The January 2016 federal court decision set off a string of court rulings that have effectively put Florida's death penalty in limbo for 18 months.

A year ago, the Florida Legislature hurriedly addressed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling by passing a law requiring at least 10 jurors to recommend death for the sentence to be imposed.

But the state Supreme Court struck down that law, saying the Hurst ruling requires that death recommendations be unanimous, even though the federal court did not address the issue.

This spring, lawmakers again amended the state's death penalty statute, this time mandating unanimous jury recommendations in capital sentencing cases.

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court in December lifted the hold on Asay's execution, in one of a pair of key rulings focused on the implications of Hurst.

In Asay's case, the court ruled that Hurst should not apply retroactively to cases finalized before the 2002 Ring decision because, in part, of the impact on the administration of justice.

"Penalty phase resentencing is a time-intensive proceeding that requires significant preparation and discovery, death-qualifying a jury, and generally, a multi-day trial," the majority wrote. "While some of the prior witnesses' statements could be admitted based on the transcripts from the prior sentencing, the jury's ability to weigh the strength of those witnesses would clearly be impacted. Finally there is an important consideration regarding the impact a new sentencing proceeding would have on the victims' families and their need for finality."

Since the December rulings, the Florida court has consistently vacated the death penalty in sentences handed down by non-unanimous juries after Ring.

In a letter Monday to Florida State Prison Warden Barry Reddish, Scott -- who signed a record number of death warrants before the Supreme Court ruling last year and urged lawmakers in 2014 to pass a measure aimed at speeding up executions -- ordered Asay to be put to death on Aug. 27.

But the new execution date could also be problematic. Scott scheduled Asay to be put to death by lethal injection just after the Florida Supreme Court -- which, along with federal courts, often must consider last-minute appeals -- resumes work after a summer recess. The court is scheduled to issue its first set of rulings after a month-long summer break on Aug. 31.

Asay will be the first Death Row inmate put to death under a new, untested lethal injection protocol adopted by state corrections officials in the midst of the upheaval over the death penalty earlier this year. The changes to the three-drug lethal injection procedure come after the previous drugs used by the state to execute prisoners expired.

The move to the new drugs in Florida -- never before used in lethal injection procedures, according to national experts --- is almost certain to spur additional litigation, generally launched by the first inmate scheduled to undergo a new protocol, which in this instance would be Asay.

Asay was convicted in 1988 of the murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in downtown Jacksonville. Asay allegedly shot Booker, who was black, after calling him a racial epithet. He then killed McDowell, who was dressed as a woman, after agreeing to pay him for oral sex. According to court documents, Asay later told a friend that McDowell had previously cheated him out of money in a drug deal.

Asay's case has also involved a legal tangle over destroyed records and a lawyer who was the subject of an investigation ordered by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.

The high court dropped the inquiry after Mary Catherine Bonner, who repeatedly missed critical deadlines in death penalty cases, resigned from a statewide registry that made her eligible to represent defendants in capital cases.

Marty McClain, a lawyer appointed to represent Asay after Scott signed a death warrant early last year, found that the Death Row inmate had gone for nearly a decade without representation. Many of the records related to Asay's case provided by Bonner were destroyed by insects or exposure to the elements, according to court records filed by McClain.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

Grinning Grim Reaper


An appeal of the sentence for death row inmate Mark Asay on the basis of Florida's lethal injection "cocktail" being unconstitutional were denied Friday.

The white supremacist was sentenced to death in 1998 for murdering two men in two different encounters in the same night. Asay confronted Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in neighborhood near Downtown Jacksonville, committing gun crimes the court called cold and calculated because Asay "without the slightest remorse...selected a second person of the same race and social circumstances as [his] first victim" and executed him as well.

According to prosecutors, Asay believed both men he killed were black.

Asay is scheduled to be put to death on August 24.

Defense attorneys objected to the Department of Corrections' use of the drug etomidate in the 3-step lethal injection administration.

Through an out-of-state expert, Asay's team presented testimony the drug does not keep a person unconscious long enough, only a few minutes, and can be painful when injected.

The medical expert for the state testified etomidate renders a person unconscious in 10-15 seconds and would keep a person from feeling pain.

According to Dr. Mark Heath, the anesthesiology expert for Asay, etomidate is administered first to make a person unconscious and oblivious to pain. The second drug, rocuronium bromide, is a muscle relaxer to keep an inmates muscles and nerves from jerking in reaction to the fatal drug potassium acetate which is administered last.

The Florida Department of Corrections has been stockpiling the new drug cocktail since January, according to the Orlando Sentinel and announced its use in January.   8)
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Florida Supreme Court says yes to first execution in months

The Florida Supreme Court is refusing to block the state's first execution after a hiatus of more than 18 months.

The court on Monday ruled 6-1 that the state can go ahead with the scheduled Aug. 24 execution of Mark Asay.

Asay, 53, was originally scheduled to be executed in March 2016, for the 1987 murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in Jacksonville.

The execution was put on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court found the state's death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional.

The Legislature has since twice changed the law, most recently this year when it required a unanimous jury recommendation for the death penalty.

Justices rejected several arguments that Asay made to block his execution, including his questioning of a new drug the state plans to use for lethal injection.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Florida to execute first inmate since death penalty was reinstated
Tuesday, Aug. 22.
Dara Kam, News Service of Florida

Florida's death penalty hiatus is slated to end Thursday, when the state plans to execute the first death row prisoner in more than 19 months.

But the execution of Mark James Asay -- a white supremacist accused of targeting black victims -- won't just be the first lethal injection since early 2016 in a state that was killing death row prisoners at a record-breaking pace until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively put Florida's death penalty on hold.

It will also be the first execution anywhere in the country using an untested triple-drug lethal injection procedure.

Asay has spent nearly three decades on death row after being convicted in the 1987 shooting deaths of two men in downtown Jacksonville.

Gov. Rick Scott initially signed a death warrant for Asay in January 2016.

But not long afterward, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death-penalty sentencing system as unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries.

Lawmakers revamped the law, but a series of court rulings kept the death penalty in limbo until this spring, when the Florida Supreme Court lifted a hold on Asay's execution, more than a year after it was supposed to take place.

It's not unusual for death row prisoners, especially those with pending death warrants, to launch myriad appeals in one of the judicial system's most complicated arenas.

Asay was convicted in 1988 of the murders of Robert Booker and Robert McDowell. Asay allegedly shot Booker, who was black, after calling him a racial epithet. He then killed McDowell, who was dressed as a woman, after agreeing to pay him for oral sex. According to court documents, Asay -- who bears white supremacist and swastika tattoos -- later told a friend that McDowell had previously cheated him out of money in a drug deal.

A jury found Asay guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and recommended the death penalty with a 9-3 vote.

The Florida Supreme Court last week rejected a major appeal by Asay, including a challenge to the new lethal-injection procedure. This week, the court rejected another attempt at a reprieve, after justices acknowledged the court had been mistaken for more than two decades about McDowell's race.

Thursday's execution would make Asay the 24th death row prisoner put to death since Scott -- who has ordered more executions than any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 -- took office in 2011.

The number of death warrants signed by Scott, during a shorter period of time than other governors, was steadily growing until the Hurst decision put executions on hold.

While death penalty lawyers don't wish for any complications Thursday, they worry that an uneventful lethal injection could prompt Scott to issue a flurry of new death warrants.

"The attention focused on this execution happens as a result of the lack of state sponsored killings in the last year and a half. I suspect the execution machine will start up again, these judicially approved medical homicides will become the norm again, and news about them will move to the back pages, if they make the paper at all," Pete Mills, an assistant public defender in the 10th Judicial Circuit who also serves as chairman of the Florida Public Defenders Association Death Penalty Steering Committee, said in an interview.

Ocala-area State Attorney Brad King, a veteran prosecutor and outspoken defender of the death penalty, wouldn't predict what the impact of Thursday's execution would be in terms of Scott.

But "if this execution is carried out without any problems, without any stays by any appellate courts, then I think the road would be clear for executions to begin on a regular basis again," King told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, who dissented in last week's ruling on Asay's appeal, raised concerns that the execution is being rushed.  :P

She wrote, in part, that the state had thwarted attempts by Asay's lawyers, led by Marty McClain, to obtain public records regarding the change in the lethal injection protocol.  :P

"In its rush to execute Asay, the state has jeopardized Asay's fundamental constitutional rights and treated him as the proverbial guinea pig of its newest lethal injection protocol," she wrote in a lengthy dissent on Aug. 14.  :P

Mills raised similar concerns.  :P

"If the state is going to kill someone on behalf of the people of that state, I would hope they would take the time to get things done right," Mills said.  :P

But Asay has had "multiple trips through the appellate system," the veteran prosecutor King said.

"There's nothing rushed about it," King said.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Florida to execute Mark Asay Thursday with new death penalty law in place

by Greg AngelWednesday, August 23rd 2017
RAIFORD, Fla. (CBS12) -- The State of Florida will carry out its first execution in more than 19 months after legal challenges forced a change to the state's death penalty law.

Mark James Asay, 53, will be executed Thursday at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Raiford.

Asay, an accused white supremacist, was convicted of murdering two African American men, Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in 1987 in Jacksonville. Prosecutors at the time told the jury they were racially-motivated hate crimes, however, Asay's attorney says one of the victims, McDowell, was not African American, but in fact, white. A point the Florida Supreme Court acknowledge in a motion response, but rejected as a basis for commuting Asay's sentence to life in prison.

Asay's attorneys argued in court motions that he was unfairly convicted based on the issue of race.
There is a plea for a stay of execution pending with the United States Supreme Court, however, there has been no indication whether the nation's highest court will intervene.

Asay was originally scheduled to be executed in 2016, but was put on hold amid a legal challenge to the state's death penalty law, specifically how death sentences are decided.

In most cases, like Asay's, there was no requirement for a unanimous jury recommendation for death.
In Hurst vs Florida, the United States Supreme Court ruled the sentencing process unconstitutional, saying it provided too much power to judges and took away a defendant's right to having a fair jury trial.

With Florida's executions paused for more than a year, the Florida Legislature moved quickly during session in 2017 to re-write the law. It was passed, and then signed in March 2017 by Governor Rick Scott.
The new law now requires a unanimous recommendation from a jury.

The new law is having wide impact on past cases and future cases.

"Under current circumstances, those individuals who are on death row are claiming that their sentence was unconstitutional under case law and a lot of those people are coming forward and getting new sentencing hearings, more often than not probably getting sentenced to life," said Gregg Lerman, a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney who has defendant multiple clients in capital murder cases.

As of the morning of August 23, there are 362 men on Florida's death row. That is a number that is now constantly dwindling, not because of executions, but because judge's are taking up appeals and commuting death sentences to life sentences.

That, however, is not the case for all inmates on death row.

Lerman estimates for approximately 100 inmates, including Asay, their cases will not be commuted based on arbitrary dates. Anyone convicted prior to that date will have past case law applied, where as those convicted after the date will have the new law applied to their case.

For those inmates, and for the final hours remaining for Asay, it could be up to the United States Supreme Court to decide.

"The U.S. Supreme Court is ultimately the final arbiter of these decisions, so the federal court system will step in, hopefully and stay this upcoming execution, and this could be within hours if not minutes before the execution is to take place and that is this gentleman's last hope at this point," Lerman said.

For future cases, Lerman predicts it could be harder for prosecutors to obtain death sentences.

That is because the law requires a unanimous recommendation from 12-member juries in capital cases. In Asay's case, for example, he was convicted and sentenced to death, based on the recommendation in a 9 to 3 vote.
Just this week, in Miami, Kendrick Silver was spared a death sentence when he was convicted by a jury 11-1 for fatally shooting a jogger in Coral Gables and a Miami security guard.

Because of a single juror holdout, Silver, 29, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
(Which is pure anti on the jury is all it takes)

Case law is not the only change to Florida's death penalty.

In January 2017, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones sent a letter to Gov. Scott outlining updated death penalty process protocol, that includes the use of a new, never-before-used drug in the lethal injection process.

The new drug is called Etomidate. It is a short-acting anesthetic and is the critical first drug injected into an inmate to render them unconscious.

Florida does not specific when or where it obtains the drug.

Etomidate was developed in the 1960s by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Belgium-based company now owned by Johnson & Johnson.

The company released a statement to CBS12, condemning the state's use of the drug.

"At Janssen, we are dedicated to preventing, intercepting, treating and curing some of the most devastating and complex diseases of our time," the statement read. "We do not condone the use of our medicines in lethal injections for capital punishment."

A company spokesman told CBS12 they no longer hold the patent and have never sold the drug in the United States. It is however offered in generic form by other companies.

Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is also condemning Thursday's execution. In a letter to Governor Rick Scott, the FCCB is asking Asay's sentence be commuted to life in prison.

"Mr. Asay, who is scheduled to be executed August 24, has been convicted of committing two heinous murders," the letter from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said. "The victims, Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell, and their families have been terribly wronged. Indeed, Mr. Asay's violent acts call out for justice and should be condemned. However, life without parole is an alternative and severe sentence. WE hold that if non-lethal means are available to keep society safe from an aggressor, then authority must limit itself to such means. This is the case in Florida, and it is within your authority to commute Mr. Asay's sentence."
(Those Catholic priests just keep on BUTTING in)

FCCB is among several groups expected to hold vigils across the state Thursday when the execution is carried out.

Florida has carried out 92 executions since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976; 259 people since 1924.
There are currently 365 inmates on Florida's death row, 3 are women. 215 are white men, 135 are black men. Of the 3 women, 2 are black.

Palm Beach County has 6 death row inmates. St. Lucie and Indian River Counties have 5. Martin and Okeechobee Counties each have 3.

Asay's death warrant is the 24th signed by Gov. Rick Scott since taking office in 2011.
(Gov Scott is my kind of guy)

The executioner is a private citizen who receives $150 per execution. They can remain anonymous under state law, according to the Department of Corrections.

The last meal, which can be requested by an inmate, must cost no more than $40 and be purchased locally.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

BREAKING: United States Supreme Court DENIES Mark James Asay's request for stay of execution. Execution planned for 6PM.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

Mark Asay's final meal was fried pork chops, fried ham, French fries, vanilla swirl ice cream and a can of Coke. He finished the fries and ice cream, ate most of his ham, about 20 percent of the pork and drank the entire can of soda.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?


Florida executes convicted killer Mark Asay

Thurs. Aug. 24, 2017

Florida has put a man to death with an anesthetic never used before in a U.S. lethal injection, carrying out its first execution in more than 18 months on an inmate convicted of two racially motivated murders.

Authorities say 53-year-old Mark Asay, the first white man executed in Florida for killing a black man, was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m. Thursday at the state prison in Starke. His death followed a three-drug injection that began with the anesthetic, etomidate.

Though approved by the Florida Supreme Court, etomidate has been criticized by some as being unproven in an execution. Etomidate replaced midazolam, which became harder to acquire after many drug companies began refusing to provide it for executions.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block the execution, denying without comment the final appeal of Asay.

Asay, who is white, fatally shot Robert Lee Booker, 34, a black man, after making multiple racist comments, prosecutors said. Asay's second victim was Robert McDowell, 26, was mixed race, white and Hispanic. Prosecutors say Asay had hired McDowell, who was dressed as a woman, for sex and shot him six times after discovering his gender.

Asay is the first white man to be executed in Florida for killing a black man. At least 20 black men have been executed for killing white victims since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center. A total of 92 Florida inmates have been executed in that time period.

Etomidate is the first of three drugs administered in Florida's new execution cocktail. It is replacing midazolam, which has been harder to acquire after many drug companies began refusing to provide it for executions. The etomidate is followed by rocuronium bromide, a paralytic, and finally, potassium acetate, which stops the heart. It is Florida's first time using potassium acetate too, which was used in a 2015 execution in Oklahoma by mistake, but has not been used elsewhere, a death penalty expert said.

While the state's high court has approved the use of etomidate, some experts have criticized the drug as being unproven.

State corrections officials have defended the choice, saying it has been reviewed. The corrections department refused to answer questions from The Associated Press about how it chose etomidate.

Doctors hired by Asay's attorneys raised questions about etomidate in court declarations, saying there are cases where it had caused pain along with involuntary writhing in patients.

But in its opinion allowing the drug to be used, the state's high court said earlier this month that four expert witnesses demonstrated that Asay "is at small risk of mild to moderate pain."

Asay was the first Florida inmate executed since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling found the state's method of sentencing people to death to be unconstitutional. The court ruled that the old system was illegal because it gave judges, not juries, the power to decide.

Since then, Florida's Legislature passed a law requiring a unanimous jury for death penalty recommendations.

In Asay's case, jurors recommended death for both murder counts by a 9-3 vote. Even though the new law requires unanimity, Florida's high court ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling did not apply to older cases.

Asay is the 24th inmate executed since Gov. Rick Scott has taken office, the most under any governor in Florida history.

Great job, Florida! Great job, Gov. Rick Scott! Remembering the victims, Robert Booker and Robert McDowell tonight. After 30 years, may your families finally have some semblance of closure.


Well done Florida.  Starting to take out the trash again.

Bet the 'so called innocent' Michael Lambrix won't be happy when he writes his next deluded blog.  You're probably next scumbag!

Grinning Grim Reaper

Last words and such...

When asked if he had any final words Asay replied "no sir I do not, thank you."

His final meal was fried pork chops, fried ham, French fries, vanilla swirl ice cream and a can of Coke


Asay was the 1st condemned murderer executed in Florida this year and the 93rd since executions resumed.
His was the 17th 2017 US execution and the 1459th since 1976.

The skinny...

Asay was on DR 30 years and dodged the bullet last year as Florida revamped its execution protocol.  Florida lit him up at 6:22 PM EDT in a flawless procedure...plain bad news for the remaining animals on DR.

Up next...

Juan Edward Castillo is set to be executed in Texas on September 7 for the 2003 murder of Tommy Garcia, Jr.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

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