Court Charges Untrue

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL - 64-year-old Gary Michael Hilton was sentenced to death on Thursday.

“You are hereby committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections,” circuit court Judge James Hankinson said.

But once on death row, Hilton has a better than equal chance of dying of natural causes than lethal injection. During debate on adding more judges to Florida’s highest court, more than one House Republican justified adding the justices because of death penalty delays.

“There are people sitting today, waiting for justice to be delivered,” Representative James Grant (R-Tampa) said. “Victims who can continually be delayed because of a backlog inside the court.”

But it’s not true. The Commission on Capital Cases provided a list of 47 inmates who appeals are complete. All 47 are eligible for a death warrant any time Rick Scott chooses to sign one. On Friday he didn’t offer a timetable.

“We’ll be dealing with it this year I’m sure,” Scott said.

But even if Scott signed a black bordered warrant tomorrow, it would be futile.

Controversy over one of the three drugs used in the lethal injection has the Department of Corrections rewriting its procedures. It will be months before those are finished.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead calls the effort to add judges political.

“The facts don’t back them up. The reality is that the court is super efficient,” Anstead said.

So while Gary Michael Hilton will die behind bars one way or the other, how he goes will have nothing to do with a Supreme Court that took too much time.

393 people are on Florida’s death row as of today. Because of delays, more died of natural causes last year than by lethal injection.


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  • by Anon on Apr 23, 2011 at 02:31 PM
    How much does it cost for the court processes for each death penalty case instead of for life without parole? Lawyers make a ton on the appeals. The death penalty is nothing but lots of $$$ for lawyers at the taxpayers expense.
  • by myh3ro on Apr 22, 2011 at 03:46 PM
    What good is the death penalty? Why put them on "death row"? Just house them with the life without parole and do away with death row. Find out the difference in housing them with the others.
  • by Jim Location: Tallahassee on Apr 22, 2011 at 03:24 PM
    "You are hear by sentenced......" Is that sort of like, "You are hereby sentenced...." but they also put plugs in your ears so you can't hear while waiting on death row?
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