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Florida Executes First Person Since Moratorium

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Doug Smith
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Florida Department of Corrections

Update 10/29/2015 11:55 p.m. -- Jerry Correll was pronounced dead at 7:36 p.m. Thursday night, ten minutes after the execution procedure began. He had no final words, but prison officials say his last meal consisted of a cheeseburger with ketchup, fried, and a Coke.

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down an official denial of Correll's petition to stay the execution at 6:40 p.m. - after the execution was scheduled to begin, which delayed the proceedings.

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Florida is not shy in handing down the death penalty to convicted criminals or in carrying that sentence out.

It has the second highest number of death row inmates in the country and ranks fourth in most executions. But the state is scheduled to carry out the sentence for the first time since January on Thursday, an unusually long lull under Gov. Rick Scott, who has seen 21 people executed under his leadership.

Jerry Correll is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday for the 1985 stabbing death of four in Orlando, including his 5-year-old daughter.

 Scott signed Correll’s death warrant this year and the condemned man had been scheduled to die in February.  But at the time, a case from Oklahoma questioning the constitutionality of one drug in its lethal injection procedure was in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Florida uses the same drug, midazolam, in the same way as Oklahoma.

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Credit Florida Department of Corrections
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Jerry Correll

While waiting for the outcome of the Oklahoma case, the Florida Supreme Court suspended all executions until the high court released its opinion. Ultimately, it did not find the drug’s use unconstitutional and Florida’s moratorium was ended.

If Correll’s execution goes through as planned, he will be  the 22nd person ordered executed by Scott, which is more than under any other Florida governor since the penalty was reinstated in 1976

Arguments in another case involving Florida’s death penalty were heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in early October. It looks at how juries recommend the death sentence in Florida.

The U.S. Supreme Court still has the power to stay Correll’s execution, though that appears unlikely.