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Supreme Court to hear electric chair debate

Lawyers for death row inmates Monday told the state Supreme Court that execution in Florida's electric chair has become "a spectacle marked by smoke, flames, screams and blood."

The state's response is due next Monday, and the court plans to hear oral arguments on the electric chair Aug. 24, three weeks before Thomas Provenzano is scheduled to be executed.

Provenzano was to be executed in early July, but he got a reprieve after the bloody electrocution of Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis on July 8. Blood seeped out of the mask covering Davis' face, dribbling onto his chest and oozing through the strap securing him to the chair.

Davis was executed for the 1982 murders of a pregnant Jacksonville woman and her two young children. Provenzano is condemned for 1984 shootings in an Orlando courtroom that killed two bailiffs and left another paralyzed.

A judge in Orlando last week ruled that death in the electric chair is not "cruel and unusual." But the decision that matters will come from the state's high court, which gave Provenzano's lawyers until Monday to file their appeal.

In their brief, Provenzano's lawyers said the Department of Corrections can't be relied on to carry out a constitutional execution.

"Far from the "dignified, professional and humane' death trumpeted by respondent, executions in Florida have become a spectacle marked by smoke, flames, screams and blood," they wrote.

"Spiderman' burglar

is sentenced to 20 years

MIAMI _ A burglar dubbed Spiderman by police was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for stealing $5,000 in property, including cash, a laptop computer and jewelry from a seventh-floor condominium.

Derrick James was convicted last December for the June 21, 1998, theft.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Leesfield sentenced James to two concurrent 20-year terms for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft.

James, a former Army paratrooper, is suspected of stealing $6-million in cash, jewelry and credit cards in more than 130 high-rise burglaries throughout South Florida.

Police said Spiderman used his agility and upper-body strength to climb quickly from one balcony to the next without ropes or hooks.

Boy charged with murder

attacked by fellow inmate

FORT LAUDERDALE _ A boy charged with murder in the death of a 6-year-old girl may leave a juvenile detention center provided he wears an electronic ankle monitor, a judge ruled Monday.

An attorney for Lionel Tate, 12, sought to get the boy out of the detention center after Tate was attacked by a fellow inmate over the weekend.

Tate received stitches in his head as a result of the attack, said Jim Lewis, the attorney.

Tate was charged with murder after 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick died from injuries suffered after she was left with the boy's mother.

The 12-year-old confessed to giving Tiffany a bear hug and dropping her, causing the girl to hit her head, Broward County sheriff's officials said.

_ Compiled from wire reports