Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Lawmakers say they won't abandon death penalty

DALLAS — A bungled execution in Oklahoma in which the condemned prisoner writhed and moaned as he received a lethal injection outraged death-penalty opponents, invited court challenges and attracted worldwide attention.

But the inmate's agony alone is highly unlikely to change minds about capital punishment in the nation's most active death-penalty states, where lawmakers say there is little political will to move against lethal injections — and a single execution gone wrong won't change that.

Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian, a Republican lawmaker who pushed to have state Supreme Court justices impeached for briefly halting Tuesday's execution, was unsparing.

"I realize this may sound harsh," Christian said, "but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."

Attorneys for death-row inmates hope Tuesday's spectacle provides new evidence to argue that the injections are inhumane and illegal. But beyond the courtroom, support for capital punishment is undeterred in the states that perform the greatest number of executions — Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio. And nowhere in those places are any elected officials of either political party talking seriously about using the incident to seek an end to executions.

Missouri Rep. Paul Fitzwater, a Republican who chairs the state House's corrections committee, called the botched execution "horrible" and "definitely not humane" but said it had not sparked any calls for reform.

Oklahoma prison officials say Tuesday's execution of Clayton Lockett went awry when an intravenous line of drugs became dislodged. He later died of an apparent heart attack. Lock­ett had been condemned for shooting a 19-year-old girl with a sawed-off shotgun and watching as two accomplices buried her alive.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has stayed a forthcoming execution as prison officials investigate, but she too reaffirmed her support for capital punishment.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said the Oklahoma event highlighted problems with the death penalty and he's asking his attorney general for a review.

National surveys by Gallup indicate that support for the death penalty remains strong, though it has declined over the past 20 years, from 80 percent in favor of capital punishment in 1992 to 60 percent two years ago.

There are signs of a shift, primarily in the West and Northeast, after almost four decades in which no state legislatures voted to end executions.

Five states — New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland — have formally abolished the death penalty in the past seven years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment. New York's death penalty was abolished by a court, and several other states have placed executions on hold. An antideath-penalty bill in New Hampshire fell one vote short of passage.

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 17 minutes ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 1 hour ago
Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

TAMPA — Firefighters were battling a blaze at Captiva Club Apartments on Thursday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.According to video taken at the scene, the roof of one of the apartment buildings at 4401 Club Captiva Dr. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed at a restaurant about 3 p.m. Thursday.The deputies were at Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton when a man shot them through the restaurant’s window, a Sheriff’s Office statement said.A...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

ST. PETERSBURG — A distracted driver walked away unscathed after his car plunged 50 feet off Interstate 275, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Thomas Highhouse, 61, of Pinellas Park, was driving his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro south on Interstate 275...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

LARGO — Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who broke into a home early Thursday morning and confronted the owners with a knife.The incident took place about 3:40 a.m. at a townhouse at 7360 Ulmerton Road, according to Largo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

SEMINOLE — A Seminole man was arrested on allegations that he burglarized a home, set it on fire and stole the homeowner’s dog, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Austin Lang, 19, now faces numerous charges of burglary, arson and poss...
Updated: 5 hours ago