FL EXECUTION TO HAPPEN TONIGHT - Mitch Perry

05/26/04

John Blackwelder, the 59th person to be executed by the state of Florida, is scheduled to be executed at 6PM today.... Blackwelder was scheduled yesterday to be executed for the murder of convicted killer Raymond Wigley at Columbia Correctional institution....Blackwelder had previously confessed that after luring Wigley into his cell with the promise of a sex act, he tied Wigley to the bed and strangled him as Wigley begged for mercy.

At 5:45 last night, just 16 minutes before his scheduled killing, The execution was delayed at least 24 hours to give the state time to check out a claim that ANOTHER prisoner killed confessed to killing a convict.

Professor John Cochran is an associate Chair in Criminology at the University of South Florida.....He believes that Governor Bush is trying to deal with dueling forces in staying the execution - but for only 24 hours (roll tape#1 o.q."stay the execution, again")

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of executions in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor in 1976...Since that time, 910 people have been executed in the United States, including 58 in Florida

In Florida, serial killers Ted Bundy and Gerald Stano, " were among the 44 inmates strapped in the same three-legged oaken electric chair known as "Old Sparky." Another 14, including Aileen Wuornos, one of the few female serial killers, have died by injection. In that same quarter century, Florida also leads the nation in the number of inmates freed from death row with 25.

The delay yesterday in John Blackwelder's execution was not played prominently in Wednesday's Newspapers in the tampa bay area...A wire story on the delay was on page 5 in the Metro section in the ST. Petersburg Times.....WMNF asked USF Professor John Cochran, has the media - and the public, lost interest in the significance of the state giving its highest criminal sanction - death- to those considered worthy of such a penalty? (roll tape#2 o.q."less and less interest in it")

But Professor Cochran says that conversely, based on public opinion polls, the concern about the Death Penalty has fluctuated up and down since World War II....

(roll tape#3"small amount of offenders")

OUTRO: The latest on the execution of 49 year old John Blackwelder

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