ORLANDO — A man convicted of raping and strangling a young girl 22 years ago is set to be executed after more than two decades of failed appeals by lawyers who argued that he was too mentally ill to stand trial or be subjected to the death penalty.
Elmer Carroll, 56, is scheduled to die by lethal injection today at the Florida State Prison in Starke. His last chance at a reprieve is before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering a petition filed by his attorney. The petition says that Carroll should have been considered mentally ill at the time of the murder.
"As far as I'm concerned, he was mentally ill at the time of the offense," said Carroll's attorney, Michael Reiter. "He has had mental illness all of his life."
Prosecutors disagreed and several courts have upheld Carroll's competency to stand trial and be put to death.
"Carroll does not meet, much less even allege, he meets either the definition of, or, factual requirements to be considered sufficiently mentally ill to bar his execution," Assistant Attorney General Scott Browne wrote in a motion filed last month.
In November 1990, Carroll was indicted on a count of first-degree murder and sexual battery for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan, who lived with her family next door to a halfway house for homeless men where Carroll was staying, in the Orlando suburb of Apopka.
Carroll, who had twice been imprisoned for indecent assault on a child, had told one of his housemates that the girl was "cute, sweet and liked to watch him make boats," according to witness testimony at his trial.