Wednesday, November 01, 2006

September 20, 2006

... Florida leads the country in exonerations of prisoners on Death Row, with 22 since 1973. ...

Last Meal: Hill requested no special last meal and prison officials said he refused a meal that included tacos, beans, a tossed salad and apple crisp.

The skinny: Hill was executed for the killing of a Pensacola cop during a botched bank robbery in 1982.

More skinny: Hill and a friend, Cliff Jackson, drove from Mobile to Pensacola in a stolen car to rob the Freedom Federal Savings Bank. When an alarm went off, Hill ran out the back door and Jackson fled out the front door. A Pensacola police officer was one of the first on the scene. Along with Officer Larry Bailly, they arrested Jackson and were attempting to handcuff him when Hill approached them from behind and began shooting. The officer died in the shootout, and partner Larry Bailly was wounded. Hill was shot five times and was caught a short time later.

Hill's trial began on April 25, 1983 and concluded on April 29, 1983, with the jury finding Hill guilty of both first-degree murder and felony murder as alleged in Count I. The sentencing phase began on April 29 and as a result, the jury returned a 10-2 death recommendation.

Accomplice Jackson pled guilty and was given a life sentence.

The victim's portrait hangs in the lobby of the Pensacola police station as a ''vivid reminder'' of what can happen in police work.

A close call: Hill had been strapped to the death gurney once before, in January, and was moments away from execution then when the U.S. Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution so he could challenge Florida's method of lethal injection on the grounds it violated his civil rights. That was unsuccessful.

His death came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeal on a 5-4 vote.

Leading up to: Hill received visits from defense attorney D. Todd Doss, a death row advocate and the inmate's wife, Serena Mangano, of Modino, Italy, who married him in June in a no-contact wedding at Florida State Prison in Starke. Mangano visited him again Wednesday.

Last words and such: Hill, 48, was revealed to witnesses already strapped to a hospital bed, intravenous tubes visible and his head and hands restrained by leather straps. Hill did not respond when warden Randall Bryant asked him at 6 p.m. if he had any last words. He stared, unblinking, at the ceiling in the death house. At 6:02, Hill blinked several times before heavy lids drooped to near closed and his chest rose visibly twice. He showed no further signs of life. A blue-cloaked and hooded medical staffer came in at 6:11 to check Hill's vitals, followed by a similarly clothed doctor to check Hill with a stethoscope. After two nods to Bryant from the anonymous member of the execution team, the warden declared Hill dead.

Factoids: Hill was the...

43rd murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1047th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Florida in 2006
61st murderer executed in Florida since 1976

FLORIDA: Hill's execution came within days of a lengthy American Bar Association study that says Florida complies with only eight of 93 ABA legal standards covering death penalty cases. Florida also leads the country in exonerations of prisoners on Death Row, with 22 since 1973.

The ABA made 11 recommendations for change in Florida, including a requirement that Florida juries unanimously recommend the death sentence as they do in the 37 other death-penalty states. Today, jurors need only recommend death by a majority vote, and judges have the final say. Though it apparently hasn't happened since 1999, the report says, a judge has the authority to override a jury's recommendation of life in prison and sentence the convicted person to death.

With Hill's execution, there are 376 men and no women left on Florida's Death Row.