State Postpones Execution of Florida Trooper's Killer

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

STARKE, Fla. (AP) -- The execution of a South Florida drug trafficker, convicted of killing a state trooper with a pipe bomb, is on indefinite hold.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused the state's request to lift a stay of execution just hours before Paul Augustus Howell was set to die by lethal injection Tuesday.

The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. District of Appeal on Monday temporarily blocked the execution so it could consider a last-ditch appeal.

The state appealed to Justice Clarence Thomas who referred the case to the full court.

Howell was convicted of killing Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in 1992 with a bomb placed inside a gift-wrapped microwave oven.

Authorities said it was intended to kill two Marianna women, but Fulford stopped a car carrying the package for speeding near Tallahassee.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A federal appellate court has stopped the execution for now of a drug trafficker convicted of killing a Florida state trooper with a pipe bomb.

The 11th U.S. District Court of Appeal in Atlanta granted the stay to Paul Augustus Howell on Monday. He is scheduled to be executed Tuesday.

Howell's lawyers are appealing a federal judge's rejection of a last-ditch appeal. Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers, though, certified an appeal to the 11th Circuit.

The South Florida drug ring member was convicted of murdering Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in 1992. Fulford stopped a car for speeding in north Florida. He was killed when he opened a gift-wrapped microwave oven with the bomb inside after finding it in the vehicle.

Authorities say Howell intended the bomb kill two Marianna women because they knew too much about a drug-related killing.

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP), February 6, 2013 - A drug trafficker convicted of killing a state trooper is asking the Florida Supreme Court to block his scheduled Feb. 26 execution.

Lawyers for Paul Augustus Howell asked the justices for a stay of execution and filed a post-conviction appeal on Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey previously denied Howell's appeal in Jefferson County. That's where Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford was killed by an exploding pipe bomb in February 1992.

The bomb was in a gift-wrapped microwave oven Fulford found in a car he stopped for a traffic violation on Interstate 10 east of Tallahassee.

Howell was convicted of building the bomb that he intended to kill two women in Marianna because they knew too much about a South Florida drug trafficking ring.

Jefferson County, FL, September 18, 2008 - The State has only pursued the death penalty in a handful of cases in recent years... but it's been many years since a crime in this area has resulted in a death sentence. In 1992, a defendant Paul Howell was sentenced to death in January 1995, and today, he's still sitting on death row.

On February 1, 1992 State trooper Jimmy Fulford made a traffic stop on a rental car speeding on interstate-10 in Jefferson County.

Inside the trunk of the car was a package holding a bomb in a microwave oven that was allegedly meant for a woman in Marianna, Florida. While conducting a search of the car, the trooper opened the package and was killed in an explosion.

To ensure a fair trial, the venue was moved to Pensacola and a jury there convicted Howell of murder and imposed the death penalty. Frank Sheffield is one of about four or five attorneys in the area who are certified to represent defendants in death sentence cases, and represented Howell in the trial phase.

"Because of the nature of the charges, the case law and the way that our death penalty statute is set up, death penalty is a rarity in today's murder cases," says Sheffield.

In Howell's case, the jury came back ten to two in favor of the death penalty... and since then, Howell has exhausted his appellate and post conviction options.
Clyde Taylor represented Howell after he was convicted and sentenced to death. Taylor says right now Howell has a clemency request at the Florida Governor's office.

"I think one of the issues that the Governor's office was concerned about was the issue of whether or not protocol was followed when the package was opened by the trooper without a warrant, without backup, without having it checked by a sniff dog," explains Taylor.

Taylor also says the Governor's office could grant Howell clemency or issue a death warrant. Taylor says that warrant will give the date Howell is to be put to death... and he'll have up to that day to try to get a stay of execution.

Another case where death was imposed was in Wakulla County in 1999. Assistant State Attorney Eddie Evans says Guerry Wayne Hertz and Jason Looney were tried and convicted of murdering Melanie King and Robin Keith Spears in July 1997. Court records show Hertz and Looney stood trial for forcing their way into King and Spears' home, binding them and gagging them with duct tape, shooting them several times, burning down their home with King and Spears still in it and stealing their cars. The jury voted ten to two to recommend the death penalty, and the trial judge sentenced both Hertz and Looney to death. Evans says they are both still on death row.

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  • by agree Location: tally on Sep 19, 2008 at 10:46 AM
    I agree with Raw, these scumbags should be put under the dirt within so many days (no more than 30)for these crimes. I think it should be immediate. The victims did not get a specified time of how long they could live, nor were they given the chance to survive. While these dirt bags cry and whine how inhumane it would be to juice them up why dont you just take them out like they took their victims then the crime would stop more than likely. They dont care it is free food, sleep, gym, education, tv, and whatever else they need, medical, dental you name it. All the while we have to pay for these luxeries for our families and these scum bags. Not too mention the less we have to spend on them maybe just maybe they would not be having such huge budget cuts and people losing jobs.
  • by raw Location: tally on Sep 19, 2008 at 07:05 AM
    If a jury of your peers give a guilty charge, then the client should have 30 days to appeal and on the 31st, they everywhere but America! If this was the case, there would be less in prison, less crime, less is that simple. Criminals have entirely too many rights!
  • by me Location: tallahassee on Sep 19, 2008 at 06:40 AM
    It cost more to take care of one inmate on death roll than most poor people make in a year busting there a--.
  • by Darlene Location: Mayo, Fl on Sep 18, 2008 at 09:39 PM
    The way the system works... bites.. The bad guys have all the rights where as the good guys have none. The state waste more money on the death row than on actually death of the prisoner. From the time they are found guilty they should serve no more than 1 yr on death row . After that-- by by prisoner.. Then there would be justice for the family's and maybe--just maybe crime would go down
  • by Idiot on Sep 18, 2008 at 09:04 PM
    It's been said it's better to let a 1000's guilty men free than one innocent man to hang. Myself I'm not that forgiving. Some of these guys on death row are clearly 100% guilty and should have been taking a dirt nap years ago. As if our tax monies arent wasted enough. Sure run the gambit of DNA tests for the ones that are requesting it so we dont juice an innocent man but for the the others that are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, Juice them now! Why should we spend twenty thousand a year or more of our hard earned money on them?
  • by Betty Location: NC on Sep 18, 2008 at 06:10 PM
    Leave them in prison for years get them all beefed up so when it's time to execute them they can whine about being to fat for a lethal injection that is total BS.People kill then they cry about cruel and inhumane punishment,If they take a life they have no right to complain about a dang thing.It is not fair to the state or the tax payers to house those scumbags for year and years
  • by ME on Sep 18, 2008 at 05:33 PM
  • by Johnny Location: Cairo on Sep 18, 2008 at 02:18 PM
    Considering the tax dollars that are being wasted keeping this person behind bars, the State has probably spent enough on this prisoner that it would about surpass whatever it costs to put him to death. I would say go ahead and put the man to death, he is just enjoying a life in jail why continue to waste taxpayer dollars?
  • by Anonymous on Sep 18, 2008 at 12:27 PM
    quit denying comments for this article or don't ask for a public opinion
  • by Anonymous on Sep 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM
    I do not think that the Governor's office is concerned with the protocol that was followed; just Taylor and Howell's. "Mr. Howell" was asked numerous times if there was anything in the car that was dangerous or illegal before the package was opened by the trooper; he said NO...end of story.
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