As Florida execution approaches, bishops urge governor to take pro-life path

Florida Department of Corrections

Florida Department of Corrections

"This does nothing to change the 170 year long history of Florida not executing whites for killing blacks".

He pointed to the resentencing hearings given to defendants whose death sentences were finalized after June 2002 after the system was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2016. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987. For decades, Asay's victims, 34-year-old Robert Lee Booker and 26-year-old Robert McDowell, were classified in legal documents as black.

CBS News reported that Asay would be the first white man to be executed in Florida for killing a black man.

Barring an 11th hour reprieve, Asay will be put to death with three drugs - the first of which, the short-acting sedative etomidate, has never been used for that goal in the United States.

While death penalty opponents lament the resumption of executions in the state with the second-highest number of condemned inmates in the country, some medical experts are warning that the convicted double murderer, who bears swastika tattoos from a dalliance with the Aryan Brotherhood in his youth, could die in agony due to the unknown effects of the chemicals. 53-year-old Mark Asay will face a lethal drug never before used in a U.S. execution.

One midazolam manufacturer, West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, filed a brief in support of eight inmates in Arkansas in April, saying it tries to ensure its medication isn't used in executions. But he said he was not confident that the supreme court justices, or Florida governor Rick Scott, would step in to save Asay's life.

WJXT reported that Marty McClain, Asay's lawyer who was court-appointed after Scott signed a death warrant past year, learned Asay had gone for almost a decade without legal representation, and that numerous records related to his case provided by his previous attorney - who had resigned from a statewide registry that made her eligible to represent defendants in capital cases - were destroyed by insects or exposure to the elements.

The night of the murders, Asay was out drinking with his brother and a friend in Jacksonville when they went looking for prostitutes. Booker died from internal bleeding.

Asay then appealed based on the new drug cocktail that would be used, but that was also rejected, with officials defending the use of the new drugs despite reservations about their use.

Asay and the friend, "Bubba" McQuinn, fled in Asay's red truck.

"Torres was identified at trial by everyone who testified as white and Hispanic".

Asay's case has also involved a legal tangle over a lawyer who was the subject of an investigation ordered by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga. But Asay's attorney says etomidate, which would be part of a three-drug lethal injection protocol, causes pain before it takes hold and could cause involuntary body movements. Asay said the dispute was over stolen money.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Asay's death warrant was the 23rd signed by Scott in seven years, more than any other modern-day Florida governor.

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