The 4th Execution of 2018
Eric Scott Branch was executed in the state of Florida on February 22, 2018.
Before Branch was set to be executed for his horrific crimes — the rape and brutal murder of a Florida college student — he turned to correctional officers and told them that they shouldn’t have to kill him.
That job, Branch argued, should belong to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and the state Attorney General Pam Bondi (R).
“Let them come down here and do it,” Branch told the Florida State Prison officers Thursday evening, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve learned that you’re good people, and this is not what you should be doing.”
Moments later — as the 47-year-old death-row inmate began to receive the lethal injection drugs — he started to squirm and shout.
Then, the AP reported, Branch screamed: “Murderers! Murderers! Murderers!”
Branch was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at the state prison in Starke, more than 40 miles southwest of Jacksonville.
When asked about Branch’s scream and whether it could have been caused by the drugs, Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady told the AP that “there was no indication” that was the case.
Branch had been sentenced to die for the brutal rape and killing of 21-year-old Susan Morris, a video production student at University of West Florida.
According to the AP, Branch had also been convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old in Indiana “and of another sexual assault in the Florida Panhandle that took place just 10 days before Morris was killed, court records show.”
The jury in his murder case recommended the death penalty by a 10-2 vote under Florida’s old capital punishment system, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. The high court said juries must reach a unanimous recommendation for death and judges cannot overrule that. Florida legislators subsequently changed the system to comply.
One of Branch’s final and unsuccessful appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court involved whether he deserved a new sentencing hearing because of that jury’s 10-2 vote in his 1994 trial. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the new system of sentencing did not apply to inmates sentenced to death before 2002.
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