Florida has executed 56 inmates
since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The following are thumbnail descriptions of the 54 men and two
1. John Spenkelink, 30, was the first person in the United States
unwillingly executed in the modern era of capital punishment.
Spenkelink was condemned for the Feb. 3, 1973, slaying of Joseph J.
Szymankiewicz, 43, an Ohio parole violator, in a Tallahassee motel
room. Spenkelink, a California prison escapee, said Szymankiewicz
stole $8,000 from him, forced him to commit homosexual acts and play
Russian roulette with a pistol. The May 25, 1979, execution sparked
an investigation after there were allegations that Spenkelink fought
his electrocution, resisted the guards that shaved his head and was
gagged and silenced before being placed in the electric chair. There
were also allegations that cotton was stuffed in his rectum and his
mouth was taped shut. An investigation determined most of the
allegations were false, but reporters and other witnesses watched as
inmates were strapped into the electric chair during all subsequent
2. At the time of his execution on Nov. 30, 1983, Robert Sullivan
had been on death row longer than anyone in the United States - more
than 10 years. Sullivan, 36, was executed for the April 8, 1973,
slaying of Donald Schmidt, an assistant manager at a Howard Johnson
restaurant in Homestead, where Sullivan had worked. Sullivan, the
adopted son of a Harvard-educated doctor, and his boyfriend, Reid
McLaughlin, abducted Schmidt, taped his wrists behind his back and
drove him to a swampy area, where they shot him twice in the head
with a double barrel shotgun. When arrested, Sullivan had a shotgun,
a handgun, white adhesive tape and Schmidt's credit cards. Sullivan
confessed to the murder and implicated McLaughlin. McLaughlin also
confessed, but entered into a plea bargain with the state and
received a life sentence for his testimony at Sullivan's trial,
Sullivan was convicted in November 1973 and the jury recommended a
life sentence. The trial judge imposed the death penalty.
3. Anthony Antone, 66, was executed on Jan. 26, 1984, for
masterminding the Oct. 23, 1975, contract killing of Tampa private
detective Richard Cloud. The detective was killed in a hit ordered
by crime boss Victor Acosta. Antone's job was to hire two hit men.
Acosta and the man who pulled the trigger committed suicide. The
second hit man, Ellis Haskew turned state's evidence against Antone.
Antone testified in his own behalf and denied participation in the
4. Arthur F. Goode III, 30, was enthralled with 13-year-old
television child actor Ricky Schroeder and carried the youth's
picture around with him. Goode was executed April 5, 1984, for
killing 9-year-old Jason Verdow of Cape Coral on March 5, 1976. He
also was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in the slaying of
Kenneth Dawson, 9, in Falls Church, Va. Both slayings occurred after
he had escaped from a mental hospital in Baltimore, Md. On the day
before his execution, Goode, a pedophile, fantasized about surviving
his execution and getting away free. "I don't want people to think
I'm crazy because I like molesting children. I'm competent ... I'm
aware that what I've done is wrong. I'm proud of the fact that I
murdered two boys as protest to society." In his last statement,
however, he said, "I have remorse for the two boys I murdered. But
it's hard for me to show it."
5. James Adams, 47, became the first black man executed in
Florida since 1964 when he was electrocuted May 10, 1984, for the
beating death of millionaire Fort Pierce rancher Edgar Brown. Brown
was beaten to death with a fireplace poker during a 1973 robbery.
Adams' Rambler was seen leaving the scene. Later, items from Brown's
house were found in a car belonging to Adams' wife. At the time,
Adams had escaped from a prison in Tennessee where he was serving a
99-year sentence for rape. Racism and innocence were the basis for
his unsuccessful appeals.
6. Carl Shriner, 30, died in the electric chair for the June 20,
1984, killing of 32-year-old Gainesville convenience store clerk
Judith Ann Carter, who was shot five times. The murder occurred
while he was on parole for armed robbery. One of 10 children,
Shriner began his life of crime when he was 8-years-old.
7. The case of David L. Washington led to the U.S. Supreme
Court's decision on the quality of counsel guaranteed to indigent
inmates. Washington was executed June 13, 1984, for the murders of
three Dade County residents during a 10-day span in 1976. In his
final statement, Washington apologized to the victims' survivors,
saying, "I'm sorry for all the grief and heartache I have brought to
them. If my death brings any satisfaction, so be it.".
8. Ernest John Dobbert Jr., 46, was condemned for the 1971
killing of his 9-year-old daughter, Kelly Ann, and second-degree
murder for killing a son, Ryder. Their bodies were never found. The
jury voted 10-2 in favor of life in prison, but the judge overrode
the verdict and sentenced Dobbert to death. Dobbert was executed on
Sept. 7, 1984 after a tearful reconciliation with another daughter,
9. James Dupree Henry, 34, turned down a deal which would have
allowed him to plead guilty to the March 23, 1984, slaying of
Orlando civil rights leader Zellie Riley in exchange for a life
sentence. Henry broke into Riley's home with the intention of
robbing him. He took $64 and some credit cards. Riley died of
strangulation from the gag Henry put in his mouth. The jury voted to
7-5 to recommend death and Henry was executed on Sept. 20, 1984.
10. Timothy Palmes, 33, was executed Nov. 8, 1984, for the Oct.
4, 1976, stabbing death of Jacksonville furniture store owner James
N. Stone. Palmes was a co-defendant with Ronald Straight, executed
May 20, 1986. Stone was lured to the Jacksonville apartment of his
secretary, where Straight and Palmes attacked him with a hammer.
They bound his hands and feet with wire and placed him in a wooden
box they had built. For about 30 minutes they beat him, amputated
several of his fingers and tortured him. Stone begged for his life.
With a butcher knife and machete, Straight and Palmes stabbed Stone
18 times and tossed the wooden box in the St. Johns River. They took
his money, watch and car and his secretary, Jane Allen, took $2,800
from the store. They were arrested in California.