For third time, killer's execution is scheduled

A Death Row inmate convicted in the strangulation murder of his Tampa girlfriend's teen daughter more than 25 years ago is scheduled to be executed this month, Gov. Charlie Crist said in a letter signed Thursday.

Wayne Tompkins, 51, is set to die by legal injection Oct. 28.

Two previous Florida governors had signed Tompkins' death warrant — Bob Martinez in 1989 and Jeb Bush in 2001 — but the execution was delayed through several appeals.

The body of 15-year-old Lisa DeCarr was found June 5, 1984, more than a year after her mother, Barbara DeCarr, reported her missing. Her skeletal remains were discovered wrapped in a pink bathrobe and buried beneath her mother's Osborne Avenue home.

The girl was last seen alive by her mother on March 24, 1983.

Barbara DeCarr could not be reached Thursday for comment.

A friend of Lisa's testified during the trial that she saw Lisa struggling with Tompkins the morning she went missing. A jailhouse informer was set to testify that Tompkins confessed to him about murdering Lisa, but the informer committed suicide before the trial.

Tompkins' attorneys once challenged his sentence by raising questions after the Hillborough State Attorney's Office disclosed that DNA evidence in the case had been lost by police. Defense attorneys demanded a new trial based on that and what they claimed were other inconsistencies in the case.

The lost evidence came to light after then-Gov. Bush called for the testing of any DNA that could exonerate Tompkins, which had become Bush's policy before signing death warrants.

But before learning that the governor was calling for DNA testing or that it had been lost, a circuit judge denied a defense motion to test it, saying the request was too late and the "testing would not prove or disprove any material issues in this case."

Michael Benito, the original prosecutor who is now in private practice, said Thursday he didn't understand why the execution had been delayed for so long.

"He sat on Death Row for 23 years. It's mind-boggling to me that they can take that long to execute someone who killed a 15-year-old girl," Benito said. "If the victim would have had a choice of dying in 1983 or living until 2008, I think she would have wanted to live, just like he has."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report, which used information from the Associated Press. Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

For third time, killer's execution is scheduled 10/02/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:47am]

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