Clarence Hill, convicted of killing a Florida police officer during a botched bank robbery in 1982, was executed by lethal injection last night, reports the Miami Herald. Hill had been strapped to the death gurney in January, and was moments away from execution then when the U.S. Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution so he could challenge Florida’s method of lethal injection on the grounds that it violated his civil rights. That challenge was unsuccessful, and the high court decided in a 5-4 vote to deny another stay. Relatives of Hill’s victim, Pensacola police Officer Stephen Taylor, said the execution had been too long in coming. Twenty-four years “is entirely too long for justice to be served,” said Taylor’s widow, Suzanne Vickery.
The execution came within days of an American Bar Association study that says Florida complies with only eight of 93 ABA legal standards for death-penalty cases. Florida leads the country in exonerations of death-row prisoners, with 22 since 1973. The ABA made 11 recommendations for change, including a requirement that Florida juries unanimously recommend the death sentence, as juries do in the 37 other death-penalty states. Today, jurors need only recommend death by a majority vote, and judges have the final say.