For each of the nine people he shot and killed in rip-offs, ex-Sweetwater cop Manuel Pardo did not shy away from the ultimate punishment.
What Im begging you to do is let me have a glorious ending and not condemn me to a state institution for the rest of my life, he told jurors in an extraordinary sentencing in 1988.
Im not a criminal. Im a soldier. As a soldier, I ask to be given the death penalty. I accomplished my mission.
Twenty-four years later, Pardo is to get his wish.
On Tuesday, he is set to die by lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke, barring any last-minute appeals.
Even among Miamis notorious crime lore, Pardos case remains an anomaly: He was a military veteran turned cop turned serial killer who meticulously kept news clippings of each of his murders.
I dont know if its because he was in law enforcement that made it such a nasty, chilling case, but I spent over 19 years in homicide and this one always sticks out, said retired Hialeah Detective John Allickson, part of the team that investigated Pardo. In sitting there, talking to him, he was Ted Bundy-esque.
His lawyers have nevertheless fought for decades to keep him alive.
Among their latest claims: the state has refused to give over enough public records relating to the lethal injection method and the manner of execution is cruel and unusual punishment.
Last week, however, the Florida Supreme Court sided with a Miami-Dade judge, rejecting Pardos appeals and saying his claim about lethal injection is based on pure speculation and conjecture.
Lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and another hearing is scheduled Monday in front of a Jacksonville federal judge. Lawyer William McKinley Hennis III said Pardo, 56, has also long suffered from a thyroid disorder that ravaged his mind and body.
Hes never been allowed to put on an expert about hyper thyroidism and the impact it had on his crimes and his competency at trial, Hennis said Friday.
Born and raised in New York, Pardos outlook looked bright.
He joined the Navy and won honors for good conduct and sharpshooting. He was honorably discharged in February 1978. After a short stint as a bank clerk, he was accepted into the Florida Highway Patrol academy, where he earned class valedictorian. He later earned two college degrees.
But trouble brewed. He resigned in January 1980 from FHP while under investigation for writing bogus traffic tickets. When he joined Sweetwater Police, superiors lauded him for his work, which included resuscitating an infant that had stopped breathing.
Then in January 1985, Pardo flew to the Bahamas to testify on behalf of a former Sweetwater cop on trial for drug smuggling. Pardo claimed, falsely, that he was a drug agent working with the accused. The lie got him fired from the department.
Soon, Pardo began committing rip-offs with Rolando Garcia, a laborer he met through his brother-in-law.
Prosecutors said Pardo and Garcias first victims were Mario Amador, 33, a civil engineer who sold dope on the side, and Roberto Alfonso, 28, a parking lot attendant.
During a January 1986 deal in Northwest Miami-Dade to buy several kilos of cocaine, Pardo ordered the men to the ground, then pumped bullets into each of their heads.