Donald David Dillbeck

Opponents Of The Death Penalty Waiting On Biden To Fulfill Campaign Promise

Donald David Dillbeck
Donald David Dillbeck was put to death by lethal injection at 6:13 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023

President Joe Biden promised to end the death penalty during his presidential campaign.

However, two years into his presidency, according to The Associated Press, his Department of Justice (DOJ) is still fighting death row inmates’ appeals to have their sentences reversed.

According to the AP, death penalty opponents expected Biden to act within weeks of initially taking office to fulfill his 2020 campaign promise to end capital punishment on the federal level and to work at ending it in states that still carry out executions. 

But to this point, no steps have been taken, according to the AP.

In the news: Florida Death Row Inmate Files Appeal At Supreme Court To Block Execution

Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is fighting in the courts to maintain the sentences of death row inmates, even after Attorney General Merrick Garland temporarily paused executions on July 1, 2021.

Lawyers for some of the over 40 death row inmates told the AP that they’d seen no meaningful changes to the Justice Department’s approach under Biden and Trump.

In Florida’s first execution since 2019, Donald David Dillbeck was put to death by lethal injection at 6:13 p.m. on February 23, 2023, 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.

In the news: Death Penalty Revamp Headed To Full Florida Senate

“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.

Dillbeck was sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann, 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.

In another Florida case, an attorney for death row inmate Louis Bernard Gaskin went to the Florida Supreme Court last week to block an execution scheduled for April 12.

Attorney Tracy Martinell Henry filed a notice of appeal, after Flagler County Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on Monday rejected Gaskin’s arguments challenging the death sentence.

The notice of appeal did not detail issues that will be raised at the Supreme Court. But Perkins turned down arguments about issues such as whether what is known as “mitigation” evidence about Gaskin’s mental health should have been presented before he was sentenced to death.

In the news: DeSantis Signs Death Warrant For Louis Gaskin, Sets Stage For Florida’s 2nd Execution In 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 13 signed a death warrant for Gaskin, who was convicted in the 1989 murders of Robert and Georgette Sturmfels during a burglary of their Flagler County home.

Gaskin, now 56, 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.

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