STARKE — Twenty-four years after he urged a jury to give him a "glorious" death, Miami serial killer Manuel Pardo shut his eyes, yawned and fell into an eternal slumber, but not before delivering one last defiant homage to his military past.
"Airborne forever," the former U.S. Navy veteran said, adding an ode to his daughter. "I love you, Michi baby."
And so the former Sweetwater cop, who shot and killed nine people during a series of robberies in 1986, was executed, pronounced dead at 7:47 p.m. Tuesday at Florida State Prison.
Before Pardo was strapped to the gurney, he issued a neat handwritten letter, accepting responsibility for killing six men — but no women, he insisted — as part of his "war against men who were trafficking in narcotics."
But the nephew of Fara Quintero, one of three women slain by Pardo, insisted he was "no soldier."
"But rather a disturbed man whose hatred for mankind knew no mercy," nephew Frank Judd told reporters afterward. He called the execution "mild justice" for killing his aunt.
Pardo's death by lethal injection caps the bloody and bizarre saga of a man who joined the military and law enforcement before he embarked on a killing rampage in 1986 that left nine dead. Pardo's demise is also a reminder of a decade in Miami-Dade marred by scandals of corrupt cops who robbed, killed and were arrested for crossing the line into the criminal world.
His execution was the third in Florida this year. In October, Miami's John Errol Ferguson — a killer of eight — was set to be executed but received a last-minute stay as a federal appeals court considers claims that he is mentally ill.
As for Pardo, the native New Yorker joined the U.S. Navy in the 1970s, earning several honors before joining the Florida Highway Patrol. He joined Sweetwater police, but was later fired.
He soon after started killing, and most of his victims were drug dealers.
Faced with overwhelming physical evidence, Pardo went to trial in 1988, pleading insanity. At sentencing, he pleaded for the death penalty.
"I'm not a criminal. I'm a soldier. As a soldier, I ask to be given the death penalty. I accomplished my mission," he told jurors.
Even after his conviction, Pardo maintained in numerous press interviews that he did more social good than he could have done as a policeman.
On Tuesday, his final statement was equally as brash. In a one-page letter, he made no apology to the families of his victims. Then, he boasted of his pride in seeing the New York Giants and the Yankees win so many championships. Pardo also praised Spain for winning a World Cup title in soccer, and urged the country to keep the tradition of bullfighting.
In the last hours of his life, Pardo visited with eight relatives and friends and had a Cuban-style last meal.