Darryl Barwick, now 56

Florida Death Row Inmate, Who Stabbed Woman 37 Times, Scheduled To Die Wednesday

In 1986, Darryl Barwick was 19 years old when prosecutors say he saw a pretty young woman sunbathing by the pool of her apartment complex in Panama City, followed her home, and slashed the woman to death.
Darryl Barwick, 56 (Source: FDLE)

In 1986, Florida man Darryl Barwick was only 19 years old when prosecutors say he saw a pretty young woman sunbathing by the pool of her apartment complex in Panama City, followed her home, and slashed the woman to death.

In the late morning of March 31, 1986, 24-year-old Rebecca Wendt was sunbathing outside her apartment complex in Panama City.  At the same time, Darryl Barwick was lurking around the premises, watching her as he passed by several times. 

When Wendt returned to her apartment, Barwick followed her inside, intending to steal something.  When Wendt resisted, Barwick stabbed her. 

Later that night, Michael Ann Wendt, the victim’s sister, and roommate, discovered her body in their bathroom wrapped in a comforter.

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Investigators found bloody footprints and fingerprints at the scene.  The victim had been stabbed over 37 times.  According to prosecutors, Wendt’s bathing suit looked as if someone tried unsuccessfully to remove it.

There was no evidence of sexual contact, but medical examiners did find semen on the comforter Wendt was wrapped in.  Tests conducted on the semen concluded that Barwick was within two percent of the population that could have left the semen.

After his arrest on April 15, 1986, Barwick confessed to the murder, but insisted that he only entered Wendt’s apartment under the motive of robbery.

Death Warrant Signed, Execution Looms

After a three-and-a-half-year hiatus from the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis has signed death warrants for three death row inmates in less than three months.

February 23, Donald Dillbeck, 59, was executed for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann outside a Tallahassee mall. On April 12, Louis Bernard Gaskin, 56, was executed for murdering a couple in Palm Coast in 1989. 

On April 4, Gov. DeSantis signed a death warrant for Barwick, now 56, in the murder of Rebecca Wendt.

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday, April 28, rejected an appeal by Barwick, as the state prepares to execute him this week for the murder of the woman in Bay County.

Justices, in a 24-page main opinion, turned down a series of arguments, including that he should be shielded from execution because of what his attorneys described as “lifelong severe mental illness (neurodevelopmental/neurocognitive disorder) accompanied by immutable cognitive deficits and low mental age.”

In an April 18 brief, the attorneys pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court precedent that bars executing people with intellectual disabilities.

But Friday’s Florida Supreme Court ruling said the “claim is procedurally barred” because it had been raised unsuccessfully in earlier appeals.

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Also, the ruling said that “even if it were not procedurally barred or untimely, this claim is without merit.” The ruling came two days after a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Barwick’s attorneys on different grounds. 

Barwick is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at Florida State Prison. Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, John Couriel, Jamie Grosshans, and Renatha Francis shared Friday’s main opinion. Justice Jorge Labarga concurred in the result but wrote a short separate opinion.

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