Thursday, November 02, 2006

October 18, 2006

...He had the same meal in January, when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped his execution just minutes before he was to be executed....

Last Meal: Rutherford has a final meal request of fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, fried eggplant, hush puppies and sweet tea. He had the same meal in January, when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped his execution just minutes before he was to be executed.

The skinny: Rutherford, 57, a handyman, was executed for the 1985 murder of a woman who had hired him.

More skinny: Rutherford was hired by the 63-year old woman to do a series of odd jobs, including replacing her sliding glass patio doors. She expressed concern about him to her friends. Her naked body was later found submerged in the bathtub of her home, dead from drowning or asphyxiation. Police found Rutherford's fingerprints and palm prints in the bathroom where she was killed.

At his trial, two witnesses testified that Rutherford asked for their help in cashing a $2,000 check on the victim's bank account. Rutherford forged her name on the check and took Heaton to a bank, where she cashed the check. Several friends and relatives testified that Rutherford had told them of his intentions to rob a lady and leave her in the bathtub, but no one took him seriously. The victim had a broken arm, bruises on her face and arms, and three severe head wounds.

The trial Judge sentenced Rutherford to death following a 7-5 jury vote recommending death.

Legal Machinations: Rutherford had maintained his innocence, claiming a witness in the case had confessed to the crime. The courts had continuously rejected that claim, along with his challenges to the lethal injection process as cruel and unusual punishment.

The latest challenge revolved around the Florida Department of Corrections' adoption of a document in August laying out the execution process. The document included new details about the amounts of drugs injected, the drug and alcohol testing of executioners and a cutdown procedure when a vein can't be located. The department didn't publicly release the document until this week, leading Rutherford's attorneys to ask for a stay of execution to review it. The Florida Supreme Court rejected that argument Tuesday and the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit Wednesday.

Leading up to: On Wednesday morning, Rutherford had last visits with more than a dozen relatives, including his father, children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers. None of his relatives attended the execution.

Last words and such: Rutherford nodded to someone in the front row but made no final statement. He declined to take a sedative before receiving the injection.

At 6:11, the first of two blue-smocked and hooded medical personnel entered the death chamber, checked Rutherford's vitals and departed, the last with a nod to warden Randall Bryant. ''The sentence of the state of Florida vs. Arthur Rutherford has been carried out at 6:13,'' said an assistant warden at Florida State Prison.

Factoids: Rutherford was

44th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1048th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Florida in 2006
62nd murderer executed in Florida since 1976

He is the 19th inmate to be executed during the tenure of Gov. Jeb Bush.

About 50 anti-death penalty protesters held a vigil across the highway from the maximum-security prison while the execution was taking place. No one supporting the death penalty made a public showing.