STARKE - Smiling and occasionally
chuckling, a confident Paul Hill predicted Tuesday -- a day before
his execution -- he'll receive a ''reward in heaven'' for slaying an
abortion doctor and his escort.
Anti-death penalty groups warn that Hill's execution today could
spur a renewed round of violence against abortion clinics, and as
police outside Florida State Prison set up the tightest security
since the 1989 execution of serial killer Ted Bundy, Hill spent his
next-to-last day on earth defending his actions.
''To be quite honest about it, I'm expecting a great reward in
heaven for my obedience,'' Hill told 40 newspaper and TV reporters
in a visiting area inside the prison where he is scheduled to be put
to death by injection at 6 p.m. for the 1994 shotgun shooting deaths
of Dr. John Britton and his driver, retired Air Force Col. James
Barrett. ``God put me in extraordinary circumstances and under those
circumstances I needed to act.''
''I'm looking forward to glory, no doubt about it,'' said Hill,
who will be the first murderer to be executed for the death of an
In the hourlong interview, Hill appeared relaxed and said he was
without remorse. He provided a chillingly detailed account of the
shooting, telling reporters how he hid the shotgun in an
antiabortion protest sign and arrived early at the Pensacola clinic
that day to avoid police. He said he killed Barrett first, then he
pointed the shotgun at ''the abortionist,'' reloading and firing
five more rounds ``until all moving stopped.''
''It doesn't take long to realize that killing a mass murderer
under those circumstances is a reasonable thing to do, and under the
circumstances, is something I believe was long overdue,'' Hill
Most antiabortion groups have taken pains to distance themselves
from Hill and his belief that he was justified in killing Britton to
save 'innocent children,' but the one-time Presbyterian minister
said he hopes his death will inspire others to take the ''necessary
means'' to prevent abortions.
''I say to the pro-life community, that if you believe abortion
is lethal force, you should uphold the force needed to stop it,''
Hill said. ``Force should be resisted with force.''
He added: ``More people should have acted as I acted.''
And Hill suggested that even though he has been cast out by the
mainstream antiabortion movement, God sanctioned the slaying.
''I believe and trust the Lord will use my actions to save
innocent children,'' Hill said. ``I hope [it] will ultimately lead
to the demise of legal abortion.''
Clinics across the country are girding for a feared new round of
attacks following Hill's death. Hill was one of a group of people
convicted of violence against clinics in the late 1990s.
Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed Hill's death warrant in July, was
He told reporters Tuesday that the pleas to halt Hill's execution
-- and a series of death-threat letters sent to public officials --
had not changed his support for the death penalty, particularly for
''Florida has a law that I have a duty to fulfill and I believe
in the protecting of innocent life. I also believe it is not
inconsistent to suggest that when a person in a premeditated
fashion, convicted by a jury of his peers, murders two people and he
is convicted to death, that carrying out that sentence is
appropriate,'' Bush said.
Anti-death penalty activists renewed their call Tuesday for a
halt to the execution. Britton's stepdaughter, Catherine Britton
Fairbanks, called the execution ``murder.''
''I've been against the death penalty for a long time,''
Fairbanks said. ``I can't make an exception for Paul Hill.''
''We're very concerned that Paul Hill's call for violence may be
picked up by any person to whom God speaks,'' said Abe Bonowitz,
whose group, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, first
sounded the alarm about creating a martyr.
But Hill said he welcomes his execution, and dropped his appeals
to speed it up.
''The thought of going to heaven and receiving an approval seemed
very inviting,'' Hill said.
Worried that extreme antiabortion activists might try to
interfere with the execution, Bradford County Sheriff Bob Milner
said nearly 100 law-enforcement officers -- about 70 more than usual
for an execution -- will be on hand, including deputies from three
sheriff's agencies, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and
the Florida Highway Patrol.
Protesters, who will be allowed to mill in a field across the
street from the prison, will have their cars inspected and sniffed
by a bomb-detecting dog.
Police will also inspect any items carried into the protest area,
BRACING FOR PROTESTS
Hill has been lauded as a martyr to the cause on some extreme
antiabortion websites, and several have posted maps and directions
to the prison in north-central Florida.
Milner said police were bracing for as many as 500 demonstrators,
ranging from anti-death-penalty advocates and pro-choice activists
to militant antiabortion activists and those who back the death
Hill visited Tuesday with his wife, his two daughters and his
son, as well as with a former lawyer and friends in the antiabortion
Across the street from the prison, television satellite trucks
set up shop as holding areas for protesters went up, marked off with