Donald Dillbeck executed by lethal injection

Dillbeck is the first inmate put to death in Florida in nearly 4 years.
Dillbeck is the first inmate put to death in Florida in nearly 4 years.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 11:53 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:06 PM EST
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STARKE, Fla. (AP) — Florida executed a man on Thursday for murdering a woman in 1990 after he escaped from prison, stabbing her to death in a shopping mall parking lot in an attempted carjacking.

Donald Dillbeck, 59, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection, the governor’s office said. He had been convicted in murder of Faye Vann, 44, in Tallahassee near the state Capitol.

The execution was Florida’s first in nearly four years and the third under Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. By comparison, his immediate predecessor, current U.S. Republican Sen. Rick Scott, oversaw 28 executions.

The curtain between the death chamber and the viewing room opened at 6 p.m. Wednesday. When asked if he had any last words, Dillbeck said: “I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up.” He also criticized DeSantis.

The execution began at 6:02 p.m., and Dillbeck closed his eyes shortly thereafter. He breathed deeply for a few minutes while his body shook. By 6:07 p.m., his mouth hung open, and he appeared to stop breathing.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - After a series of unsuccessful attempts to block the scheduled execution of Donald Dillbeck, the death row inmate is set to be put to death by lethal injection Thursday at 6 p.m.

Dillbeck has been on death row since the 1990 killing of Faye Vann in the parking lot of the Tallahassee Mall. This will be the first execution in Florida since Gary Bowles was put to death in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

He is being held in a death watch cell at the Florida State Prison just outside Starke as final preparations are made. The former lead investigator on the case sat down with Katie Kaplan recently to reflect on the crime.

“This guy killed her for no reason. I mean, he could have said, ‘Hey, get out of your... let me have your car,’ and that would have been it, but he chose not to do that. He chose to stab her numerous times,” retired homicide investigator Berkeley Clayton said.

Dillbeck’s legal team asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the execution earlier this week after exhausting all options at the state level.

As of Wednesday night, the Supreme Court rejected the petition. A press briefing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ahead of the scheduled execution. WCTV will livestream that event when it happens.

Katie Kaplan and Savannah Kelley will have live continuing coverage this evening on Eyewitness News at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.