On Thursday evening, a nine-month, court-ordered respite from executions in Florida is scheduled to come to an end.
At 6 p.m. in the death chamber outside Starke, Jerry Correll is scheduled to be executed for stabbing four people to death in Orlando in 1985: his 5-year-old daughter, his ex-wife, and her mother and sister.
Correll was originally scheduled to die in February, but the Florida Supreme Court postponed the execution until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that one of the lethal injection drugs used in Florida is constitutional.
With the first execution in months on the horizon — the longest such respite since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 — opponents of the death penalty are planning to speak out Thursday. Catholics will gather outside churches all over the state, as well as across the street from Florida State Prison, where the death chamber sits.
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The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, which staunchly opposes capital punishment, has asked Scott to commute Correll’s sentence to life in prison, said Ingrid Delgado, the group’s associate for social concerns and respect life.
“Even though we did have a nice break, we are concerned that they’re starting again, and we are concerned that this is going to break the record of the most executions under one governor,” Delgado said.
If the execution goes forward as planned, Correll will be the 22nd man ordered executed by Scott, surpassing the 21 executions under Jeb Bush. That’s more than any governor since capital punishment came back into use in 1976.
Still, Correll’s lawyers are hoping for a delay. They’ve asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution. The court is currently considering a case that could throw out the process used to sentence convicted killers to death in Florida.
Death sentences in Florida are handed down by a judge, not a jury, although jurors are allowed to make a recommendation. But a legal challenge has emerged as Florida is one of just three states where death sentences don’t require a unanimous vote by the jury.
“Essentially, we’re asking them not to allow the execution of someone under a statute that could be ruled unconstitutional,” attorney Maria DeLiberato said.
Contact Michael Auslen at email@example.com. Follow @MichaelAuslen.