Saturday, November 10, 2007

Condemned Inmate Asks U.S. Supreme Court For Execution Stay

TAMPA, Fla. -- A child killer scheduled to die next week by lethal injection asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to halt the procedure as the court considers whether execution procedures constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Mark Dean Schwab is scheduled for execution Nov. 15. The state's highest court denied a stay earlier this week. But the U.S. Supreme Court is considering appeals by two Kentucky inmates that question whether the lethal injection procedure used in most states -- including Florida -- is unconstitutional.

The federal justices have effectively halted executions, granting three stays since they agreed in September to hear the Kentucky case. It made October the first month in nearly three years when no executions were carried out in the United States.

The state did not immediately file a response to Schwab's request for a stay. A decision on whether to hold up the execution is not likely before next week.

Schwab was convicted of raping and murdering 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez 16 years ago in Brevard County. In a concurring opinion denying Schwab a stay last week, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente said the decision was better made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It should be that court's decision to determine whether it intends a de facto moratorium on the death penalty and whether the issues it is presently reviewing regarding lethal injection justify a stay of Schwab's execution," she wrote.

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