- 2013 - December - 26th -

Governor reschedules execution after court ruling

From News Service of Florida

After an earlier execution date got postponed because of a legal challenge, Gov. Rick Scott rescheduled the execution of convicted murderer Askari Abdullah Muhammad for Jan. 7.

The move follows a unanimous Florida Supreme Court ruling last week that the state’s new three-drug cocktail used to execute Death Row inmates does not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Muhammad, who was formerly known as Thomas Knight, was initially convicted of kidnapping and killing Sydney and Lillian Gans in 1974. He also escaped from the Dade County Jail while awaiting trial and was involved in a liquor store robbery in Cordele, Ga., where two clerks were shot, with one killed.

The high court lifted a stay imposed Nov. 18 to prevent Muhammad’s execution, which had been scheduled for Dec. 3. Muhammad’s attorneys argued that William Frederick Happ, who was executed in October using a new anesthetic as part of the drug combination, had been conscious for an unusually long time during his execution and moved his head.

But in its ruling, the Supreme Court said the Department of Corrections’ rules for executions call for prisoners to be unconscious before the other drugs are used – and that it presumed that the agency would follow its own procedures.

Muhammad will be put to death for fatally stabbing corrections Officer Richard James

Burke with a sharpened spoon in October 1980, while Muhammad, now 62, was already on Death Row.

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