Friday, May 16, 2003

May 16, 2003

``I'm ready. It is time.''...a very bad man in Florida

Last Meal: Slawson, a former fertilizer bag stacker, last meal was a plate of battered fried scallops and a Coke.

The skinny: Slawson was executed for killing an entire family. Slawson killed a husband and wife, their two young kids, and their unborn baby. He sliced open the woman's body, taking her nearly full-term baby from her womb, shooting and killing it. Family members said Slawson's punishment wasn't enough.

Evidence and trial: Police said the 1989 slayings occurred after husband offered to sell Slawson crack cocaine and the wife said she feared he might be a police officer. What happened next is unclear, but Slawson got his gun and opened fire on the family. In his trial, prosecutors claimed Slawson had fantasies about dismembering women. When he was arrested, police found bloody clothing, a bloody knife, a .357 revolver with blood on it, an assault rifle, 180 rounds of ammunition and a Penthouse magazine in which had drawn images of slit bellies on some of the nude photographs.

Defense attorneys argued that the husband had slipped crack cocaine into Slawson's beer, sending an unstable man into a killing rage.

Machinations: Just an hour before Slawson's scheduled execution Thursday, Gov. Jeb Bush issued a temporary stay so that three psychiatrists could examine whether Slawson was competent to be executed. Those psychiatrists reported to Bush around midnight and ruled him competent. The standard for competency is understanding that execution will result in death and why the sentence is being imposed.

Last Day: Slawson ate his last meal, read from a Star Trek novel titled ''Eugenics Wars,'' and visited with family members for the final time when given news of the stay. He was visibly upset by the delay.

Last words and such: Slawson never explained why he killed the family. And he never apologized. Slawson appeared ''very relaxed, very focused,'' before his execution, and that the inmate told guards, ``I'm ready. It is time.'' When the warden asked Slawson this morning if there was anything he'd like to say before he died, Slawson simply said, "No, sir." Slawson was given Valium before the injection.

Factoids: An anonymous executioner, who injected the lethal cocktail of chemicals, was paid $150 in cash.

Slawson was the 56th person executed since Florida resumed executions in 1979 and the second to die this year. He was the 13th person executed under a death warrant signed by Jeb Bush.

Death penalty opponents criticized the execution as an ''assisted suicide,'' noting that recent executions in Florida have been inmates like female serial killer Aileen Wournos, who have given up their right to appeal. Nationwide, 97 such ''volunteers'' have been executed since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for restoration of the death penalty in the mid-1970's, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit interest group.