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Florida court ruling puts executions back on calendar

  • Story Highlights
  • Death row inmate Mark Schwab's request to stay his execution denied
  • Florida Supreme Court unanimously rules lethal injection not 'cruel and unusual'
  • Then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had issued a moratorium on lethal injection in 2005
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(CNN) -- The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday denied a death row inmate's request to stay his execution, saying the state's lethal injection procedures are not cruel and unusual punishment.

The Florida Supreme Court rejected a death row inmates request to have his lethal injection stayed.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices denied Mark Schwab's request for relief on a variety of claims, including the lethal injection aspect.

Several states had halted executions beginning in 2005 amid concerns over the execution procedures.

Then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush issued a moratorium in his state after complaints over the length of time needed to execute prisoner Angel Nieves Diaz.

It took 34 minutes for Diaz to die -- twice as long as usual.

A two-year review is now complete, and Schwab's would be the first execution in the state since the moratorium ended.

"We reject the conclusion that lethal injection as applied in Florida is unconstitutional," the justices wrote.

The decision allows Schwab's execution, scheduled for November 15, to proceed pending further appeals.

He was convicted of first degree murder, sexual battery of a child and kidnapping for the 1991 kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez.

All 37 states with capital punishment use a three-drug mixture: an anesthetic, a muscle paralyzer and a heart-stopping substance. Death penalty opponents say if the inmate is not given enough anesthetic, he could suffer excruciating pain without being able to express that because of the paralyzer.

The Supreme Court of the United States has not ruled directly on the "cruel and unusual" aspect of lethal injection, but did conclude last year that prisoners can make last-ditch legal challenges to the method of execution, using claims they would suffer a painful death. Video Watch the creator of the lethal injection cocktail say he blames 'political correctness' for call to review the execution system »


After the U.S. high court agreed to hear Kentucky cases over the constitutionality of lethal injection, capital defendants have filed a flood of appeals seeking execution stays or new hearings.

The justices have stayed a number of pending executions, presumably until the larger constitutional questions surrounding the method of execution are settled. Oral arguments in the Kentucky cases will be held early next year. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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