A move to halt the sentence for death row inmate Mark Asay on the basis of Florida's lethal injection "cocktail" being unconstitutional was denied Friday.
The white supremacist was sentenced to death in 1998 for murdering two men in two different encounters in the same night. Asay confronted Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in neighborhood near Downtown Jacksonville, committing gun crimes the court called cold and calculated because Asay "without the slightest remorse...selected a second person of the same race and social circumstances as [his] first victim" and executed him as well.
According to prosecutors, Asay believed both men he killed were black.
Asay is scheduled to be put to death on August 24.
Defense attorneys objected to the Department of Corrections' use of the drug etomidate in the 3-step lethal injection administration.
Through an out-of-state expert, Asay's team presented testimony the drug does not keep a person unconscious long enough, only a few minutes, and can be painful when injected.
The medical expert for the state testified etomidate renders a person unconscious in 10-15 seconds and would keep a person from feeling pain.
According to Dr. Mark Heath, the anesthesiology expert for Asay, etomidate is administered first to make a person unconscious and oblivious to pain. The second drug, rocuronium bromide, is a muscle relaxer to keep an inmates muscles and nerves from jerking in reaction to the fatal drug potassium acetate which is administered last.
The Florida Department of Corrections has been stockpiling the new drug cocktail since January, according to the Orlando Sentinel and announced its use in January. No inmates have been executed in the last 18 months.
In the order denying Asay's request to invalidate the lethal injection protocol, Judge Tatiana Salvador said all the expert witnesses for both the state and Asay agreed that etomidate, when administered properly, is successful and making a person unconscious.
"Defendant has only demonstrated a possibility of mild to moderate pain that would last, at most, tens of seconds," Judge Salvador said in her order. "...this court finds the potential pain...of etomidate does not present risks."
According to a schedule from the Florida Supreme Court, if Asay wants to appeal Salvador's decision, it is due by July 31.
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