Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday set the first week in December for the executions of two men convicted of murdering elderly Central Florida women.
Linroy Bottoson and Amos Lee King have been at the heart of a nearly 11-month moratorium on executing condemned prisoners who were fighting the death penalty.
An attorney for both of the men said Friday that his office will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and possibly to another court on behalf of Bottoson, who may be mentally retarded.
The Bottoson and King cases were delayed in February after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death-penalty law in Arizona and five other states where judges, not juries, decided whether a convicted murderer got death or life in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court was silent on Florida's law, in which a jury makes a recommendation on life or death but the judge has the final say.
Proponents of the death penalty said the U.S. Supreme Court's silence meant approval, while opponents said silence meant further Florida Supreme Court study was required.
After an outpouring of interest from legal groups and antideath-penalty organizations, the Florida Supreme Court delayed the Bottoson and King executions and took up the case.
The justices ruled in October that Florida's method is sufficiently different from Arizona's to pass U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny.
Lawyers for Bottoson and King said they want the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Florida decision.
''We're asking the U.S. Supreme Court to apply'' the Arizona case to the Florida death-penalty system, said Eric Pinkard, one of the lawyers representing Bottoson and King. Pinkard works for the Tampa office of the state-funded Capital Collateral Regional Counsel.
Before the high court ordered the delay of execution, King had his last meal and was within 24 hours of being executed for the 1977 murder of a Tarpon Springs woman. King had escaped from his work-release prison. He assaulted, beat and stabbed to death Natalie Brady. He then set her house on fire. The jury recommended death unanimously.
Bottoson was condemned for the 1979 kidnapping and slaying of Eatonville postmistress Catherine Alexander, 74.
He stabbed the woman 16 times. then ran over her head several times with a car. The jury's death recommendation was 10-2.
Pinkard said Bottoson is mentally retarded and should not be executed.
Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, issued a written statement after Friday's announcement, saying: ``Florida's death-penalty system is broken. We lead the nation in wrongful convictions, and the governor is in denial that Florida needs a time out on executions.''
King is scheduled to die Dec. 2 and Bottoson on Dec. 6.