STARKE — Florida executed Miami's Jose Antonio Jimenez by lethal injection on Thursday night, 26 years after he viciously stabbed a woman to death during a burglary.
Jimenez was pronounced dead at 9:48 p.m. The execution, originally set for 6 p.m., was delayed by a last-minute request to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution. The court declined.
The 55-year-old condemned killer declined to make any last statements. The nephew of victim Phyliss Minas watched from the front row of a viewing area, separated from Jimenez by a large, thick glass window.
"Mr. Jimenez has shown no remorse or repentance for his crime," nephew Alan Partee said in a written statement released by the Florida Department of Corrections after the execution. "His execution will allow closure to a painful memory of the vicious murder ... My family hopes he has made peace with himself and to whatever power he may or may not believe in. We pray for his soul and feel justice has been rightfully served."
Jimenez was convicted of the 1992 murder of 63-year-old Minas, a clerk at the Miami-Dade criminal courthouse who was home alone when he broke in. He stabbed her eight times, including two fatal thrusts to the heart.
At his 1994 trial, a neighbor testified he saw Jimenez, who lived in the building, climbing down from Minas' apartment. His fingerprint was also found on the interior of her front door.
His defense attorneys have long insisted that Jimenez was not the killer, and the circumstantial case did not prove he was to blame. A jury, nevertheless, voted 12-0 to sentence him to death.
Jimenez was the fifth killer executed since Florida changed how it administers lethal injections, a process that critics say may be cruel and unusual punishment. In 2017, the state added a drug called etomidate — intended to induce unconsciousness — to the lethal cocktail administered to inmates during execution.
In arguing against the drug, Jimenez's lawyers cited the last execution of a Florida inmate: Eric Branch, who was put to death in February for the 1993 murder of a college student. According to defense lawyers, Branch screamed and his head, body and legs shook as the drug was administered.
The Florida Supreme Court, however, rejected the claim, saying it had already "fully considered and approved" the current method of execution.
Gov. Rick Scott originally scheduled Jimenez's execution for July 18, but the Florida Supreme Court issued a stay as his defense lawyers claimed that North Miami hadn't turned over key police records. The high court rejected the appeal in October, paving the way for Thursday's execution.
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Jimenez, a former house painter with a history of crack-cocaine addiction, was also convicted of the 1990 murder of a woman on Miami Beach. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison for that killing.
Jimenez woke up Thursday about 7:30 a.m., and later met with a Catholic spiritual adviser. "His mood was calm. His mood was in good spirits," Florida corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said at an afternoon press briefing.
His last meal: a Cuban sandwich, bacon, five over-easy eggs, french fries, vanilla-chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup.
After the three-hour-plus delay, media witnesses were ushered in to the viewing chamber just past 9 p.m. The seats were filled with prison authorities. When the curtain was raised, Jimenez was already strapped into a gurney, tubes protruding from his left arm.
When he declined to speak, the lethal injection began at 9:33 p.m. Jimenez shifted his head around a bit, then began to draw deeper and deeper breaths, his chest heaving up and down underneath a white sheet. His lips seemed to quiver, his eyes blinked.
By 9:37 p.m., his breaths seemed to have slowed. A prison official shook his shoulders, with no response. One minute later, he took another deep breath, his final visible one. The color seeped out of his face over the next few minutes.
At 9:47 p.m., a bearded doctor in a white coat entered the room. He used a small light to check Jimenez's eyes, and a stethoscope to listen for a heartbeat. One minute later, he was pronounced dead.
"The execution took place without incident," said Glady, the spokeswoman.