Saturday, June 16, 2018
News Roundup

Florida Supreme Court denies appeal from Pasco man on death row

The Florida Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a Pasco killer Thursday, just days before he is set to be executed.

John Ruthell Henry, who has been on death row for 27 years, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday. His attorney filed a last-minute appeal on the grounds that Henry, 63, is intellectually disabled. The motion came in response to a recent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying Florida has been misinterpreting the standard for calling a person mentally disabled. The state has considered anyone with an IQ of 70 or below mentally disabled but did not consider other potential evidence of disability as well as the margin of error in IQ tests, the court said.

Under the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court has said mentally disabled people cannot be executed.

Defense attorney Baya Harrison requested at least a hearing to determine Henry's mental capacity and was denied by a lower court. The Florida Supreme Court denied his appeal as well.

Henry is not entitled to a hearing, the court wrote, because intellectual disability means "significantly subaverage general functioning." Henry could drive a car and form relationships, and also communicated well, the court wrote, especially when repeatedly asking the court for new lawyers.

Henry was convicted of three killings. He stabbed his girlfriend, 28-year-old Patricia Roddy, 20 times in 1976 while her children were in the back seat of her car. He pleaded to second-degree murder and served a little over seven years. When he got out, he married Suzanne Henry. He killed her in December 1985 in Zephyrhills, stabbing her after an argument while her son 5-year-old son, Eugene Christian, was nearby. He killed the boy later that day with the same knife and dumped him in a field.

He was sentenced to death for Suzanne Henry's murder.

Harrison called Thursday's decision a "disappointing setback." He's scrambling to prepare one final appeal at the federal level.

"We were given a fair hearing and we appreciate that," Harrison said. "This would be the absolutely last thing we can do. I would say we are very cautiously hopeful."

Jon Silman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Comments
They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts.Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.They had finally gotten out of their relief hotel...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

ST. PETERSBURG — At his installation as spiritual leader of Tampa Bay’s Catholics, Bishop Gregory Parkes promised to take time to get to know his people, listen to what they had to say and work to discern a plan for the future.On Sunday, 17 months la...
Updated: 3 hours ago
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Updated: 4 hours ago
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Updated: 5 hours ago
A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.The field was about a half m...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Climate change is moving fish around faster than laws can handle, study says

Climate change is moving fish around faster than laws can handle, study says

Fish don’t follow international boundaries or understand economic trade agreements. Different species live in regions all over the globe. If that wasn’t complicated enough, they also migrate as they age."It’s like trying to raise cattle when you’ve t...
Updated: 9 hours ago