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October 6, 2017

Nearly 35 years after his double murder, Florida executes Michael Lambrix despite non-unanimous jury death recommendations

As reported in this local article, "Florida executed an inmate Thursday who was convicted of killing two people after a night of drinking decades ago."  Here is part of the extended backstory:

Michael Lambrix, 57, died by lethal injection at 10:10 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Bradford County. For his final words, Lambrix said, “I wish to say the Lord's Prayer.” He recited the words, ending on the line “deliver us from evil,” his voice breaking slightly at times.

When he finished and the drug cocktail began flowing through his veins, Lambrix's chest heaved and his lips fluttered. This continued for about five minutes, until his lips and eyelids turned silver-blue and he lay motionless. A doctor checked his chest with a stethoscope and shined a light in both of his eyes before pronouncing him dead.

Lambrix was the second inmate put to death by the state since it restarted executions in August. Before then, the state had stopped all executions for months after a Supreme Court ruling that found Florida's method of sentencing people to death was unconstitutional. In response, the state Legislature passed a new law requiring death sentences to have a unanimous jury vote.

Lambrix's attorney, William Hennis, argued in an appeal to the nation's high court that because his client's jury recommendations for death were not unanimous — the juries in his two trials voted 8-4 and 10-2 for death — they should be thrown out.  The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Lambrix's case is too old to qualify for relief from the new sentencing system. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night denied Lambrix's last-ditch appeal.

Lambrix was convicted of killing Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant in 1983 after a long night of partying in a small central Florida town, Labelle, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Fort Meyers. Lambrix said he was innocent.

He and his roommate, Frances Smith, had met the victims at a bar, and returned to their trailer to eat spaghetti and continue the party, prosecutors said.  At some point after returning to the trailer, Lambrix asked Moore to go outside. He returned about 20 minutes later and asked Bryant to come out as well, according to Smith's testimony. Smith testified at trial that Lambrix returned to the trailer alone after the killings, his clothes covered in blood.  The two finished the spaghetti, buried the two bodies and then washed up, according to Smith's testimony cited in court documents.

Prosecutors said Lambrix choked Bryant, and used a tire iron to kill Moore. Investigators found the bodies, the tire iron and the bloody shirt.

Lambrix has claimed in previous appeals that it was Moore who killed Bryant, and that he killed Moore only in self-defense. “It won't be an execution,” he told reporters in an interview at the prison Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “It's going to be an act of cold-blooded murder.”

Lambrix's first trial ended in a hung jury. The jury in the second trial found him guilty of both murders, and a majority of jurors recommended death.

He was originally scheduled to be executed in 2016, but that was postponed after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in a case called Hurst v. Florida, which found Florida's system for sentencing people to death was unconstitutional because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries. Florida's Supreme Court has ruled that the new death sentencing system only applies to cases back to 2002.

October 6, 2017 at 09:12 AM | Permalink


In my opinion, Lambrix was the most litigious death row inmate ever, with Thomas Arthur of Alabama a distant second.
I wonder how many briefs were submitted and opinions rendered in these 2 cases?
I know the 11th Circuit spent enormous amounts of time on them. Whether or not you are for the death penalty, one has to admire their attorneys for delaying the inevitable for many years.

Posted by: DaveP | Oct 6, 2017 9:29:22 AM

Meanwhile, John Thompson has died, outside of death row: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/opinion/john-thompson-exonerated.html

I understand the idea that he would not benefit from a recent ruling, but can also understand if someone would say "I support the death penalty, but 8-4 vote for it is a bit iffy." If it was so obvious, why did two and four jurors vote against it?

Posted by: Joe | Oct 6, 2017 10:30:57 AM

The Italian Death Penalty would have dispatched this vicious killer, like in 1984, and at no additional expense to the tax payer. This fool and his unethical lawyers cost the tax payer $millions. The most unethical of the lawyers were his judges. They had the power to end the long list of frivolous claims.

Basta to all lawyer cazzata.

Posted by: David Behar | Oct 7, 2017 9:12:37 PM

Dave. Do not admire people defrauding the tax payer. These claims are infinite in number, and completely invalid.

Posted by: David Behar | Oct 7, 2017 9:14:19 PM

Sorry but it WAS cold blooded murder. Anything done after the first trial ended in a hung jury is illegal under our constitution. As the state failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt! Or there would have been no hung jury to begin with. Sorry but in the case of a tie between the state and the citizen. Citizen should always win.

Posted by: Rodsmith3510 | Oct 8, 2017 2:29:52 AM

"The Italian Death Penalty" is the most disgusting idiocy DB throws on us.

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Oct 9, 2017 11:07:08 AM

“A small and capricious selection of offenders have been put to death.”

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Oct 9, 2017 11:08:05 AM

“Our prolonged examination of the situation in foreign countries has increasingly confirmed us in the assurance that capital punishment may be abolished in this country without endangering life or property or impairing the security of society. Further, we have the repeated assurances of the Home Office itself that abolition of the death penalty will not bring with it any serious or insoluble problem of administration.”
Parliamentary Committee of the British House of Commons 1930
Quoted in Calvert 1930 p 48

Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Oct 9, 2017 11:15:52 AM

I'd love to know the reasoning on why the death penalty is retroactive to 2002, but not prior.

Posted by: Erik M | Oct 10, 2017 4:19:24 PM

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