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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Don't count on execution next month



Gov. Charlie Crist may have lifted the moratorium on the death penalty, but the execution of pedophile and murderer Mark Dean Schwab next month will likely be put on hold due to a U.S. Supreme Court case.

"I'm having difficulty seeing what the urgency is in going forward with an execution when we're about to get the law from the horse's mouth," Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead said this morning during oral arguments over two challenges to the state's lethal injection procedures.

To proceed with execution and get a different opinion, Anstead said, would cause an irreparable mistake. Justice Barbara Pariente said it would be "pretty bad for the administration of justice in this state" to proceed with the Nov. 15 execution.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a claim from death row inmates that lethal injection as practiced in Kentucky violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Florida justices also may delay the execution because the case of another death row inmate, Ian Deco Lightbourne, is also pending. Lightbourne is not facing an active warrant, unlike Schwab, but his case deals with the more substantial issues regarding Florida's procedures.

The state's death penalty was called into question last December, when it took 34 minutes -- twice as long as normal -- to kill Angel Diaz because the chemical went into his soft tissue, not his bloodstream. Then Gov. Jeb Bush stopped the death penalty while the Department of Corrections revised its procedures. With those in place, Gov. Crist lifted the ban in July.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 11:19am]


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