In Florida’s first execution since 2019, Donald David Dillbeck was put to death by lethal injection at 6:13 p.m. Thursday for the murder of a woman in a Tallahassee mall parking lot more than three decades ago.
Dillbeck, 59, was the 100th inmate executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. A final appeal was turned down Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The execution went as scheduled and took place without incident,” Michelle Glady, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, told reporters outside Florida State Prison in Raiford.
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Dillbeck was sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann, who was stabbed during a carjacking. The stabbing came after Dillbeck had walked away from a prison work detail in Quincy. At the time, Dillbeck was serving a life sentence in the 1979 shooting death of Lee County sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Lynn Hall when Dillbeck was 15.
Glady said family members of Vann were present for the execution. She also said Dillbeck made a last statement, though she did not have details.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Dillbeck’s death warrant last month, setting off attempts by the inmate’s lawyers to prevent the execution. The Florida Supreme Court last week refused to block the execution, and the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit Wednesday.
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Dillbeck was the first person executed since Gary Ray Bowles was put to death by lethal injection in August 2019 for a 1994 murder in Jacksonville.
Earlier Thursday, Glady said Dillbeck had received a visit from a spiritual adviser and ate a last meal at 9:45 a.m. of fried shrimp, mushrooms, onion rings, butter pecan ice cream, pecan pie and a chocolate bar.
“Mr. Dillbeck woke up early this morning,” Glady told reporters during an afternoon news conference. “He is calm, and he has followed his normal routine.”
Responding to a reporter’s question about the state’s lethal-injection method, Glady said the “foremost objective with the lethal injection protocol is a humane and dignified process, and our lethal injection protocol has been upheld by the courts.”
Dillbeck killed Vann when she resisted the carjacking. He was arrested after crashing the stolen car and was convicted in 1991 of first-degree murder, armed robbery and armed burglary, Department of Corrections records show.
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In trying to prevent the execution, Dillbeck’s attorneys focused, in part, on a neurological condition caused by being exposed to alcohol before he was born.
They argued in one court document that the condition, known as neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, or ND-PAE, is “recognized by the medical community as an intellectual disability-equivalent condition.” The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing intellectually disabled people violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
But the Florida Supreme Court turned down the argument, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case or grant a stay of execution.
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