STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A man convicted of killing two people in 1991 on Wednesday became the third inmate executed in Florida since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty after a hiatus.
Fifty-three-year-old Patrick Hannon received a lethal injection and was pronounced dead at 8:50 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke, the office of the governor said.
Hannon was strapped to a gurney as witnesses watched on the other side of a glass window. While he expressed regret over the killings, he said it was two accomplices that killed the victims, Robert Carter and Brandon Snider. Carter was fatally shot and Snider had his throat slashed.
"I hope the execution gives the Carter family some peace. I wish I could have done more to save Robert. I didn't kill anybody, but I was there," he said.
As he spoke, one of the victim's female family members cursed.
"Robby was a good man and a good friend, and I let him down when he needed me most," Hannon continued. "As far as Brandon Snider, I think that everybody knows what he did to get this ball rolling. I'm sorry things worked out like this the way it did."
The same woman, who authorities declined to identify later, cursed again in a whisper.
Then as the execution began at 8:38 p.m., the woman made eye contact with Hannon and raised her hand as if to wave "bye, bye."
Hannon's body moved during the execution procedure. His lips twitched, his chest heaved and his arms, legs and body appeared to convulse a bit. Then, 12 minutes after the execution began, he was pronounced dead.
Florida resumed executions in August after making changes to its death penalty sentencing law. The law now requires a unanimous jury vote for a death sentence.
The U.S. Supreme Court had previously found that Florida's old sentencing law, which did not require unanimity, to be unconstitutional. However, the new sentencing law did not affect Hannon's case because the state's high court ruled that those decided before 2002 were not eligible for relief.
Hannon was convicted in 1991 of two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Snider and Carter.
It was in January 1991 when Hannon and two other men went to Snider's apartment in Tampa.
Hannon's friend, Jim Acker, initially attacked Snider with a knife, according to authorities. Prosecutors said the attacks were motivated by Snider's vandalizing of Acker's sister's apartment. Snider was "eviscerated" by the initial stabbing, according to court documents, and Hannon sliced his throat, nearly cutting off the victim's head.
Carter, who was Snider's roommate, also was home and fled the violence to an upstairs bedroom, where Hannon dragged him out from under a bed and shot him six times, the jury found.
Hannon's jury recommended death unanimously after finding him guilty of both killings.
Hannon's lawyers had earlier requested a halt to the execution plan before the Florida Supreme Court, but that was denied. Hannon had asked for a new sentencing phase, citing recent changes to Florida's death sentencing system. Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente, who dissented from the rest of the court, wrote that the jury was not given enough information to make an informed decision in Hannon's sentencing phase.
Without explanation Wednesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court denied two last-hour requests by Hannon's lawyer sto block the execution.