Jacksonville man set to be executed today

Florida Department of Corrections

Florida Department of Corrections

If his final appeals are denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, Mark Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Asay, 53, was convicted by a jury of two 1987 Jacksonville murders that prosecutors said were racially motivated.

If the execution takes place, it would mark the first time the state has used this particular combination of drugs in the lethal injection protocol.

A jury found him guilty of killing Robert Lee Booker - who was black - and Robert McDowell. Asay allegedly shot Booker, who was black, after calling him a racial epithet. He later killed a 26-year-old man named Robert McDowell, who Asay had hired for sex.

For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man for killing a black person - and it plans to do so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any US execution. "I suspect the execution machine will start up again, these judicially approved medical homicides will become the norm again, and news about them will move to the back pages, if they make the paper at all", Pete Mills, an assistant public defender in the 10th Judicial Circuit who also serves as chairman of the Florida Public Defenders Association Death Penalty Steering Committee, said in an interview. Two other drugs also will be used.

"Death in Florida" outlines the state's response to the January 2016 Supreme Court decision that Florida's capital sentencing law was unconstitutional, and the governor's reaction to a prosecutor's subsequent decision to reject the death penalty. The state's highest court turned down a motion to block the execution, saying the inmate had not shown it would lead to more pain.

Marty McClain, Asay's lawyer, has filed a final appeal to the USA supreme Court, arguing in part that his client was wrongly convicted on an unreliable ballistics report and made-up testimony from a jailhouse informant.

The Florida supreme court signalled a resumption of executions earlier this month, ruling that only inmates sentenced to death by majority jury verdicts after 2002 could seek resentencing. But he said he was not confident that the supreme court justices, or Florida governor Rick Scott, would step in to save Asay's life.

But the latest attempt by Asay lawyer Marty McClain, who's represented defendants in more than 200 death penalty cases, is yet another twist in a case rife with oddities.

WJXT reported that Marty McClain, Asay's lawyer who was court-appointed after Scott signed a death warrant a year ago, learned Asay had gone for almost a decade without legal representation, and that numerous records related to his case provided by his previous attorney - who had resigned from a statewide registry that made her eligible to represent defendants in capital cases - were destroyed by insects or exposure to the elements.

In an email to the Washington Post, she dismissed concerns, writing: "The Florida [corrections department] follows the law and carries out the sentence of the court, as laid out in Florida statute".

"In a case in which the prosecution case was built on a theory of racial animus towards blacks as the motive for Robert McDowell's homicide, this (Supreme) Court at the eleventh hour has changed Mr. McDowell's race from black to white and/or Hispanic", McClain added.

"We do not condone the use of our medicines in lethal injections".

"There's nothing rushed about it", King said.

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