Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a death warrant for a man convicted of murdering a Flagler County couple in 1989, setting the stage for Florida’s second execution in less than two months.
DeSantis scheduled an April 12 execution of Louis Bernard Gaskin, now 56, who killed Robert and Georgette Sturmfels during a burglary of their home. Gaskin also received a life sentence after being convicted of attempted murder for shooting a man during a burglary at another home the same night, according to court documents.
The Gaskin death warrant came after 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. Dillbeck, 59, was the 100th inmate executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
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Before Dillbeck’s execution, the state had not carried out a death sentence since Gary Ray Bowles was put to death by lethal injection in August 2019 for a 1994 murder in Jacksonville.
A 2018 filing at the Florida Supreme Court by the attorney general’s office said Gaskin was sentenced to death in 1990 in the murders of the Sturmfels couple.
The filing included a summary of the case that said Gaskins parked his car in a wooded area on Dec. 20, 1989, and shot Robert Sturmfels twice through a window of the home.
He shot Georgette Sturmfels, who was trying to leave the room, and then shot Robert Sturmfels again, according to the filing. He shot Georgette Sturmfels again after seeing her through a door and then entered the home and shot both of them in the head, the filing said.
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After taking lamps, video cassette recorders, cash, and jewelry, Gaskins left the home and went to the home of Joseph and Mary Rector, according to the filing. After Joseph Rector got out of bed to investigate noise, he was shot, but the Rectors were able to get to a car and drive to a hospital.
Monday’s death warrant came as DeSantis and lawmakers have renewed a debate about the state’s death-penalty laws.
The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected during the ongoing session to move away from a requirement that jurors unanimously recommend the death penalty before judges can sentence inmates to death.
After two court rulings in 2016, Florida lawmakers in 2017 changed a law to require unanimous jury recommendations. But the Florida Supreme Court subsequently said unanimity is not required, prompting lawmakers to consider the change this year.
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