GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For the first time in state history, Florida executed a white man for killing a black person - and it did so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any U.S. execution.
Asay was executed just after 6 p.m. on Thursday. He officially pronounced dead ar 6:22 p.m. He had no last words and officials say he did not seem to be in pain.
Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987. His case made national headlines.
The Department of Corrections held a press conference at 3:30 p.m. where a spokesperson spoke to the media and all of the people attending the execution.
"The Department's most solemn duty is the lethal injection," the spokesperson said. She went on to say that it is the Department's duty to uphold the decision made by courts.
According to the Department's spokesperson, Asay woke up early around 4:30 a.m. and she said he was calm and in good spirits.
For his last meal, he requested fried pork chops, fried ham, french fries, vanilla swirl ice cream and a can of Coke. He ate most of the ham, almost none of the pork, all of the fries and finished the can of Coke before he met with his spiritual advisor.
Asay was visited for nearly two hours by his sister, sister-in-law and brother-in law.
Asay's sister spoke to First Coast News stating the racial hatred label connected to her brother's case drastically changed the dynamics.
"They tried to throw that he was a white supremacist, hates blacks, and that was never the case, Mark had black friends even back then," Dean said of her brother. "Because the newspaper put it on him when this happened because he supposedly killed two black people."
One of Asay's two victims, Robert McDowell, was later discovered to be a white man and Dean believes this should have changed the case from a racially motivated crime to the lesser charge of a second degree murder which would not carry the death penalty. Prosecutors argued Asay believed both men were black.
"[It affected his case] a bunch, [a white supremacist] is something he is not," said Dean. "All that was at the time was protection."
She said Asay joined a white supremacist Texas prison gang at 18 for protection after he was assaulted. With the jail membership came numerous tattoos. The markings, along with reported racial slurs heard at the crime scene, would later be used as evidence of his motivations. Dean said Asay was not a member of an organized hate group or neo-Nazi group while he was free.
The execution is Florida's first since the U.S. Supreme Court halted the practice in the state more than 18 months ago. It is expected to be carried out using etomidate, an anesthetic that has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
Death penalty experts say the drug is unproven, while state corrections officials say the choice has been reviewed. Two other drugs also will be used.
Though approved by the Florida Supreme Court, etomidate has been criticized by some as being unproven in an execution. Etomidate replaced midazolam, which became harder to acquire after many drug companies began refusing to provide it for executions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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