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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott signs death warrant for 1987 Jacksonville murders



Less than 24 hours after the state's last execution, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed the death warrant of a man convicted in two 1987 Jacksonville murders.

At 6 p.m. March 17 in the death chamber at Florida State Prison, Mark James Asay, 52, will be executed.

On Sept. 29, 1988, Asay was sentenced to death in Duval County for two separate murders, both committed with a gun in the early morning on July 18, 1987.

He and a friend drove to downtown Jacksonville, where they saw Asay's brother talking to Robert Lee Booker, according to information from Scott's office. Asay got in an argument with Booker, called him a racial slur, pulled a gun from his back pocket and sot Booker in the stomach. Booker died shortly after running from the scene.

As Asay and his friend continued driving around Jacksonville, they encountered Robert McDowell, a man Asay thought had cheated him out of $10 in a drug deal. He arranged to meet McDowell in an alley, where Asay grabbed him and shot him for times in the chest.

A jury in 1988 recommended a death sentence for both murders by a 9-3 vote.

In recent months, Scott has ramped up the pace on executions at the state prison in Starke after a Florida Supreme Court ruling halted the death penalty for most of 2015.

On Thursday night, the state executed Oscar Ray Bolin, convicted of brutally murdering three women in the Tampa Bay area. And the execution of Michael Ray Lambrix for two 1983 killings in Glades County is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The executions come as the death penalty in Florida is under scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court, which this summer will hand down a ruling in Hurst v. Florida. The court could rule sentences on Florida's 390-person death row unconstitutional, including those of Asay and Lambrix.

[Last modified: Friday, January 8, 2016 4:38pm]


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