Darryl Barwick was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday for a 1986 murder in Bay County, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution.
The state Department of Corrections said the execution was carried out at 6:14 p.m. at Florida State Prison. That came after the Supreme Court denied a stay requested by Barwick’s attorneys.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 4 signed a death warrant for Barwick, 56, who was sent to Death Row for the murder of Rebecca Wendt in her Panama City apartment. Wendt was found wrapped in a comforter and had been stabbed 37 times.
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Barwick had seen Wendt sunbathing and, after getting a knife, followed her into the apartment, according to a court document. He was also found guilty of armed burglary, attempted sexual battery, and armed robbery.
He killed Wendt after being released from prison for raping another woman at knifepoint in 1983, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office said in a filing Saturday at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Barwick’s attorneys went to the U.S. Supreme Court after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Florida Supreme Court refused to halt the execution. The attorneys filed two petitions at the U.S. Supreme Court, as the decisions by the federal appeals court and the Florida Supreme Court dealt with different legal issues.
In the appeals-court case, for example, Barwick’s attorneys contended that his due-process rights were violated because of a “standardless” state clemency process. They wrote that the state has not granted clemency to any people sentenced to death in 40 years.
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“Due process requires that Mr. Barwick be provided a proceeding where the standards are clear and include considerations beyond the condemned’s guilt,” one of the filings said. “Clemency is a critical stage of the death penalty scheme. It is the only stage at which factors like remorse, rehabilitation, racial and geographic influences, and other factors that the legal system does not correct can be considered.”
But in a response, Moody’s office disputed the due-process arguments and pointed to Barwick’s criminal history.
“Indeed, Barwick’s case is a uniquely poor vehicle to address clemency-related due process because every federal court to look at his pleadings before now agrees that he would likely not receive clemency even if due process required the standards he seeks to impose,” Moody’s office argued. “That assessment is backed by the horrific, escalating nature of Barwick’s crimes from burglary and sexual battery at knifepoint in 1983 to burglary, attempted sexual battery and murder by stabbing in 1986 less than three months after being released from prison.”
Barwick was the third Florida inmate executed in less than three months.
Louis Gaskin was executed on April 12 in the 1989 murders of a couple in Flagler County. The state on Feb. 23, put to death Donald David Dillbeck, who murdered a woman in 1990 during a carjacking in a Tallahassee mall parking lot.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops last week asked DeSantis to halt Barwick’s execution.
“Executing Mr. Barwick will not undo the violent acts he perpetrated against Ms. Wendt but rather will perpetuate a cycle of violence,” Michael Sheedy, executive director of the conference, wrote in a letter to DeSantis. “State-sanctioned killing only continues to foster disrespect for the dignity and sacredness of human life. Taking another life is unnecessary, as society can be kept safe from Mr. Barwick through the severe and appropriate punishment of life-long incarceration.”
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