Thursday, July 26, 2007
BY MABEL PEREZ
TITUSVILLE -- A judge said today that he is still unsure what impact, if any, the recent ruling in Ian Lightbourne case has on the upcoming death case against convicted pedophile and murderer Mark Schwab.
Apparently, Circuit Judge Carven Angel's ruling in Ocala doesn't mandate how the Brevard County judge should move forward and whether he should grant Schwab a stay of execution.
"The fact that we have Lightbourne out there doesn't slow anything down or stop anything as far as I'm concerned," said 18th Circuit Judge Charles M. Holcomb.
"As I see it, I don't think any other circuit can affect what we do."
In an oral ruling on Sunday, Angel said the Florida Department of Corrections must rewrite portions of the execution protocol manual to reflect more details about the execution team, especially members’ training and experience. The ruling came after 11 continuous days of hearings in Ocala.
Corrections officials have until Aug. 17 to submit their updated execution manual. Five weeks after that, Judge Angel will hold a hearing to listen to other testimony and issue a final ruling about Florida's lethal injection.
The Florida Supreme Court scheduled arguments in the Lightbourne and Schwab case in October.Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley told the Titusville judge today that he was concerned with having to hold the same type of hearings in the Schwab case as he did in the Lightbourne case. In Ocala, DOC officials and other witnesses to the botched execution of Angel Diaz in December talked about what they saw."I don't think we need to replow the ground that has been so finely plowed in the Lightbourne case," Nunnelley said.
At the same time, Nunnelley told the court that Angel's ruling had "no binding" in the different jurisdiction. Angel is in the 5th Judicial Circuit, which covers Marion, Citrus, Lake, Sumter and Hernando counties.
Attorneys representing dozens of death row inmates filed a petition the day after the Dec. 13 Diaz execution, claiming the penalty was "cruel and unusual."
The Florida Supreme Court handpicked the Lightbourne case to hear lethal injection arguments.It took 34 minutes - twice as long as normal - for Diaz, 55, to die after an unusual second injection of the three chemicals used in the procedure.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all Florida executions in December after a medical examiner said prison officials botched the insertion of the needles.Just last week, Gov. Charlie Crist signed the first death warrant since Diaz. Schwab's is scheduled for execution on Nov. 15.
A state commission reviewed DOC policies early this year and the execution protocol was updated in May 2007. Angel ruled more changes needed to be made.
Schwab, 38, was sentenced to death in 1992. He kidnapped, raped and killed 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez, of Cocoa, by smothering or choking the boy. Lightbourne, 47, was sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Marion County horse breeder Nancy O'Farrell, the daughter of a prominent horse farming family.
For more on this story and other local news, revisit ocala.com and read Thursday's Star-Banner.