Friday, September 05, 2003

September 3, 2003

"Martyrs" eat sherbet....

Last Meal: Hill was served a final meal of steak, broccoli with
hollandaise sauce, salad, orange sherbet and iced tea.

The skinny: Paul Hill, a former Presbyterian minister and fervent anti-abortionist, used a shotgun to kill a doctor and his bodyguard as they drove into a Pensacola abortion clinic. in 1994. Hill told reporters that his death would make him a "martyr" in the anti-abortion movement and that he expected a "reward" in Heaven.

At his trial, Hill attempted to present a defense claiming that his actions had been justifiable homicide, since he had killed the two men in order to prevent the murder of unborn children. The judge refused to allow this argument in court, and Hill refused to present any other defense.

The weeks leading up to: The execution reignited fears that the militant wing of the extreme antiabortion movement will use his death as a catalyst for renewed violence.

Two weeks ago, death threat letters containing rifle bullets were sent to top state officials involved with the execution, but a resolute Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed Hill's death warrant, said he wouldn't be ''bullied'' and refused to halt the execution.

Legal Machinations: The former minister said two weeks that he did not want his case appealed and would welcome his execution.

Last Words and such: Hill showed no remorse and, in his final words, spurred antiabortion activists to follow his lead. ''If you believe abortion is a lethal force, you should oppose the force and do what you have to do to stop it,'' he said, strapped to the gurney at Florida State Prison, his face without expression. ``May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.''

Prison officials wouldn't release the names of the two dozen people who witnessed the execution, citing the ongoing criminal investigation into the death threats.

Factoids: Hill became the first killer of an abortion clinic doctor to be executed.

Hill was the...

53rd murderer executed in U.S. in 2003
873rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Florida in 2003
57th murderer executed in Florida since 1976

Hill's death led to the tightest security since serial killer Ted Bundy was electrocuted in 1989 in the same death chamber.