Florida man to be executed by lethal injection

Donald David Dillbeck convicted of killing deputy in 1979, then woman in 1991
Donald David Dillbeck
Posted at 10:46 PM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 09:17:39-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A man who has been on death row since his conviction of killing a woman in 1991 is set to be executed Thursday.

Donald David Dillbeck, 59, was 15 when he killed a deputy in Fort Myers in April 11, 1979, and then 11 years later stabbed and killed a woman in Tallahassee.

"It's always a historic moment in time if and when a state decides to execute," criminologist Dr. Debbie Goodman said. "It's still considered a rarity, if you will, of a sentence."

Dillbeck was confronted by Lee County Deputy Lynn Hall in Fort Myers. Records show he later grabbed the deputy's gun and shot and killed him.

He then served 11 years of a life sentence in north Florida, but escaped from a catering function at a vocational Center in Quincy on June 24, 1990. He went to Tallahassee and two days later killed Faye Lamb Vann before stealing her car.

"It really does create the finality, if you will, for these families who have gone through, sadly, tragically, the experience of having a loved one murdered," Goodman said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Dillbeck's death warrant Monday for the first time in three-and-a-half years.

Dillbeck lost his final appeal this week with the U.S. Supreme Court.

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That 30-year time frame, Goodman said, is pretty average as it gives inmates and attorneys time to appeal.

"It could be new evidence. It could be what we call a 'Brady violation' whereby there could be reason to believe that the state, the prosecution, withheld evidence," Goodman said. "Some inmates become very disenfranchised with their own legal representation and they seek incompetence, therefore wanting new attorneys."

Goodman said in Florida there are more than 300 inmates on death row waiting for processing and expects more executions to come.

"It is the ultimate deterrent," Goodman said. "See, that's another reason why we have it, to ensure that an individual would not be in a capacity or position to ever repeat the crime."

Dillbeck's execution by lethal injection is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Florida State Prison.