After months of delay as attorneys debated whether a sedative could be used in executions, murderer Jerry Correll was put to death Thursday night at Florida State Prison near Starke.
The execution was the 22nd under Gov. Rick Scott, the most for any governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Correll, 59, was pronounced dead about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay. He had been on Death Row for nearly three decades for the June 30, 1985 stabbing deaths in Orlando of his ex-wife, Susan Correll; their 5-year-old daughter Tuesday; his ex-wife’s sister, Marybeth Jones; and his ex-mother-in-law, Mary Lou Hines.
Scott initially signed a death warrant for Correll in January, but the execution was put on hold because of a U.S. Supreme Court case about whether a drug used in the lethal-injection process violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court case involved an Oklahoma execution, but Florida uses the same drug, midazolam, as part of its lethal-injection process. The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the use of midazolam, but the Florida Supreme Court refused to lift a stay of Correll’s execution. Attorneys for Correll argued midazolam posed a higher risk to him because of his alleged brain damage and history of drug use.
Orange County Circuit Judge Jenifer Davis held a hearing in August and ruled against Correll. The Supreme Court upheld Davis’ decision Oct. 2 and lifted the stay of Correll’s execution.
The execution put Scott one ahead of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who oversaw 21 executions during his two terms. The most executions under the watch of any governor since 1924 is 35, coming while Spessard Holland, later a U.S. senator, was in office from Jan. 7, 1941 through Jan. 2, 1945, according to the Department of Corrections.