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August 25, 2017

Florida completes (historic?) execution 30 years after double murder

As reported in this local article, headlined "In a first, Florida executes a white defendant for killing a black victim," a demographically notable execution was carried out late yesterday.  Here are the details:

For the first time in 18 months, Florida carried out a death sentence, killing Mark James Asay as final punishment for two 1987 murders in Jacksonville and making Asay the first white man ever executed in the state for killing a black victim. Asay was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m. Thursday. He was 53.

The execution began at Florida State Prison after the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, denied Asay’s final appeal. At 6:10 p.m., a curtain lifted between the death chamber and a room for witnesses. The lighting flickered, and the air-conditioning was turned off, making for an eerie quiet. “Mr. Asay, do you have a final statement?” a guard asked. “No, sir,” he replied. “I do not.”...

Asay’s chest moved up and down, and then it stopped. The guard shook Asay’s shoulders, then stood back. Eight minutes later, a doctor emerged.

The state executed Asay because a jury found him guilty of killing Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell minutes apart in Jacksonville’s Springfield neighborhood. The jury recommended he be put to death by a vote of 9 to 3. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that death sentencing system unconstitutional, and though the Florida Supreme Court now requires unanimous jury decisions, the new standard applies only to cases going back to 2002.

Asay’s attorneys said the best argument for stopping the execution would have been to say that 2002 is an arbitrary date, and because the death sentence vote wasn’t unanimous, he should be resentenced. Asay refused to let them make that argument, attorney Marty McClain said, instead asking them to argue he wasn’t guilty of murdering Booker, the black man.

When Asay was arrested, his arms bore white supremacist tattoos, and witnesses said he referred to one of the victims by the N-word. Frank Booker, Robert Booker’s brother, said Thursday afternoon that “we’ve been waiting for this since 1987, and that’s a long time. I feel a lot of pressure and anxiety will be off me, and I’ll be able to continue in life, I think, a lot more peaceful because this was something that touched a lot of us really, really deep. I know he feels sorry now, but he should’ve thought about that in ’87 when he did what he did. He did it. All the evidence pointed that way.”

Asay’s brother and another friend who were with him the night of the killings testified that the three were drinking and looking for sex. While his brother was talking to Booker, Asay used racial slurs. He then shot Booker in the stomach and fled. The men then hired McDowell, who was dressed as a woman and using the name Renee Torres, to perform oral sex, according to their testimony. Asay then shot and killed McDowell. One of the witnesses said Asay killed McDowell because he felt ripped off. A jailhouse informant later said Asay referred to McDowell using a derogatory word for gay men.

Asay admitted this week to News4Jax that he killed McDowell, who was white. The race of Asay’s victims matters because a racist motive can help prove a murder is cruel, calculated and premeditated, and worthy of execution.

The execution of Asay included the use of two drugs never before used in Florida: potassium acetate, which was used by accident in an Oklahoma execution in 2015, and etomidate, which had never been used anywhere for an execution. States that still carry out the death penalty have struggled to acquire the necessary drugs for lethal injection and have started changing their cocktails. Asay’s lawyers argued that the new injection mixture would violate his constitutional right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. On Thursday afternoon, a corrections official handed out packets about how the new injection process would work, but she wouldn’t answer questions about how the state chose the drugs.

Since Asay’s trial in 1988, Duval County has led the state in handing down death sentences, with Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda getting more death sentences than almost any prosecutor in the country. Asay’s execution was the first of de la Rionda’s death sentences to be carried out.

As hinted in the title of this post, I am not sure I want to use the label "historic" to describe the fact that a southern state has carried out the execution of a white murderer who had a black victim. At the same time, I do think it worth noting that this murderer was actually sentenced to death for his crime way back in the 1980s, and thus this execution might be deemed historic simply because it took three decades for Florida to be able to carry out his sentence. Also historic, in some sense, is an execution based on a a non-unanimous jury death recommendation, which will not be possible any longer.

August 25, 2017 at 09:47 AM | Permalink


All racial unfairness of the death penalty was against black murder victims. This execution should not count as a remedy because he had a white victim as well. That is why there should be mandatory sentencing guidelines enforced by a computer algorithm. Human judges cannot be trusted to avoid personal feelings and biases.

Posted by: David Behar | Aug 25, 2017 10:06:27 AM

"do think it worth noting that this murderer was actually sentenced to death for his crime way back in the 1980s, and thus this execution might be deemed historic simply because it took three decades for Florida to be able to carry out his sentence."

Since 1976, 93 people were executed.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 25, 2017 10:15:41 AM

Various ways to die •
I have not confirmed the data below •


Posted by: Docile/Kind Soul® in OR | Aug 25, 2017 10:55:23 AM

What the abolitionists want is a perfect death, rather than a reasonable death. The perfect death is to die in one's sleep, without pain, fear, or knowledge of doom.

The other ways of dying feel horrible. Over 90% of us will experience that death, and only 10% will experience the perfect death.

Why is the lawyer privileging the most horrible people on earth, vicious, heartless murderers, with demands for the perfect death? To generate appellate court jobs and to steal $billion in tax payer money for worthless make work.

Posted by: David Behar | Aug 25, 2017 11:53:31 AM

The article neglects that Rocuronium bromide was also used - so this was a variation on the theme of sedative, paralytic, potassium. I'm curious why he guard shook him - I suspect to demonstrate that the etomidate had indeed rendered him unconscious. Also curious about K acetate - is it bc K chloride cannot be obtained, or because it is proposed that it burns less?

Posted by: Scott A | Aug 25, 2017 12:07:41 PM


Posted by: Scott A | Aug 25, 2017 12:07:59 PM

The closest one may come to a perfect death is to drop the complicated, unreliable, and controversial cocktails. Only a lawyer could have come up with them, and among lawyers, only appellate court judges.

Get a veterinarian. Vet can order carfentanyl, now available for large animal anesthesia, 10,000 times as potent as morphine, 2000 times as potent as heroin, 100 times as potent as fentanyl. Vet can inject it IV, being an expert at euthanasia. Pass away reliably and high.

One may also order enough to do in 10 people for 300 euros, on line, with a 5 star rating. This is from the light not from the dark web.


Posted by: David Behar | Aug 25, 2017 12:42:29 PM

It's the potassium that stops the heart. Potassium acetate probably has every bit the same ionization in the bloodstream as potassium chloride (i.e., complete). In other words, the two substances are the same. KNO3 would probably do the trick every bit as well.

This was a bad guy.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 25, 2017 12:49:10 PM

Hey, Florida lawyer morons. See this guy. He can help you with highly effective execution poison.

Smuggled heroin in his artificial leg. How come this handicapped victim of society can figure it out and you cannot. Morons.


Posted by: David Behar | Aug 25, 2017 9:09:54 PM

“Those who would abolish capital punishment are not urging British to embark upon a new and hazardous experiment, or traverse uncharted seas, but merely to follow the lead of the many other countries where the death penalty as already dispensed with.”
Calvert Roy. Capital Punishment in the Twentieth Century. Putnam. London. 1927 p 45

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