Jacksonville, FL - For the first time since the Supreme Court upended Florida’s death penalty sentencing law, a man has been executed at Florida State Prison.
Mark Asay was convicted of the 1987 racially motivated murder of two men, one of who was black and the other white or Hispanic. The Florida Supreme Court recently adjusted their record on the case to update the races of the victims, since initially they had classified both victims as black men.
About two hours ahead of the 6PM execution, the Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Asay.
NEW: Supreme Court order denies stay of execution for Jacksonville's Mark Asay, currently scheduled for 6PM pic.twitter.com/0px4Yoic2s— Stephanie Brown (@SBrownReports) August 24, 2017
This marked the first time a certain anesthetic- etomidate- was used to help carry out an execution in the US. It was part of a three drug injection, that ultimately resulted in Asay’s death at 6:22 PM. Asay’s attorneys had based one of their appeals around questions about the drug and why the state is rolling it out now, but that was unsuccessful.
The Florida Department of Corrections says there were no complications or indications of pain during the execution.
Asay woke up around 4:30 AM “in good spirits”, according to the FDOC. His last meal was fried pork chops, fried ham, french fries, vanilla swirl ice cream, and a can of Coke. The FDOC says Asay spent about two hours with his sister, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law in the morning, and some time with his spiritual adviser in the afternoon.
Bridgette Matter with our partner Action News Jax was among those in the viewing room as Asay was executed. She reports it took 11 minutes for the execution to be carried out.
Mark Asay was asked if he had any last words his answer: " no sir I do not, thank you." @ActionNewsJax— Bridgette Matter (@bridgetteANjax) August 24, 2017
Asay was pronounced "sentenced" at 6:22PM @ActionNewsJax— Bridgette Matter (@bridgetteANjax) August 24, 2017
When the execution began Asay looked straight up. After a minuet, he closed his eyes. @ActionNewsJax— Bridgette Matter (@bridgetteANjax) August 24, 2017
Asay is the first person executed in Florida since the US Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty sentencing scheme to be unconstitutional in early 2016, because it allowed the judge too much discretion in the process. A few months later, Asay’s execution was formally put on hold.
The jury that sentenced Asay to death was not unanimous- at 9 to 3- but the Florida Supreme Court let the sentence stand. The Court has essentially drawn a dividing line around the Supreme Court’s Ring ruling in 2002, remanding non-unanimous jury cases since then to a new sentencing phase, while cases resolved ahead of that have stood. For the older cases, the Florida Supreme Court says their sentences were determined under a law that was constitutional at the time. The Court also questioned the logistics of bringing back witnesses and evidence for cases that are decades old.