Latest News - Posted 10:57 A.m.
Cop-killer's execution could stay on hold
STARKE -- The U.S. Supreme Court stay that spared Clarence Hill's life
Tuesday night is expected to continue to keep him alive, with no action
today even if the stay, signed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is
Hill was set to die for the 1982 shooting death of
Pensacola police officer Stephen Taylor. Gov. Jeb Bush in November signed
Hill's death warrant, setting the time for his execution at 6 p.m. Final
appeals before circuit courts and the Florida Supreme Court and federal
appeals courts failed.
But Hill's attorneys had three pending
motions before the nation's highest court and Kennedy granted the stay
based on a filing that argued lethal injection is cruel and unusual
punishment. Kennedy rejected two other appeals.
Attorney General Carolyn Snurkowski, who is handling the state's arguments
in Hill's appeals, said the appeal that resulted in the stay was rejected
Tuesday afternoon by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. An
appeal was then filed with the Supreme Court at 4:45 p.m., just more than
an hour before the scheduled execution. The state filed its responses at
Hill's attorney, Todd Doss, was not available this
Kennedy's stay didn't come until 7 p.m.
hour, witnesses that included Taylor's brother and sister, sat silently,
staring forward at their own reflections in the glass panes that separate
the witness room from the death chamber. A brown curtain stayed drawn,
never opened to signal the execution was proceeding. Shortly after 7 p.m.,
assistant warden Randall Polk announced the stay and witnesses were led
Department of Corrections officials will not say if Hill was
strapped to a gurney, a needle inserted in his arm to deliver deadly
chemicals, during that time. A department guidelines document indicates
the condemned is already in the death chamber when witnesses are brought
"We were prepared to proceed," said Debbie Buchanan, a
spokeswoman for the department, in what she described as a prepared
statement vetted by attorneys.
Robby Cunningham, also a department
spokesman, said officers remain "on standby."
But Russell Schweiss,
a spokesman in Bush's office, said an execution today is not
Snurkowski said the death warrant signed against Hill
remains valid for a week, a clock that began running at noon on Monday. If
the stay is lifted, she said, the governor would discuss with the warden
about readiness to conduct the execution. Another execution, of A.D.
Rutherford, is scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
For now, Hill
awaits a further order from Kennedy. In his order Tuesday night he said
the stay could be lifted by him alone or the entire court.
predict," Snurkowski said.
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