Florida Senate President Tom Lee planned to witness the execution of convicted cop-killer Clarence Hill, but the Supreme Court delayed it last night. Lee was accompanied by the man who will succeed him in the presidency next year, Sen. Ken Pruitt. Pruitt said the menwere there because, “We legislate some incredibly significant issues affecting life and death,” the Miami Herald reports. Hill, 48, has appealed his sentence, saying he is mentally retarded. He is challenging the use of the drugs used in executions. He was convicted of the murder of a Pensacola police officer 23 years ago.
As a death penalty proponent, Lee is ”interested in advancing legislation that would strengthen the process and reduce the unending appeals,” said his spokesperson, Kathy Mears. Legislators will take up a death penalty bill in the session that begins in March. The bill would require a unanimous jury recommendation in death cases. Florida is the only one of the 38 death-penalty states that allows juries to recommend a death sentence by a simple majority rather than a unanimous vote. A judge makes the final decision.