More than 27 years after he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman he met at an Escambia County bar, Michael Zack III was put to death by lethal injection last night at Florida State Prison. Local groups opposed to the death penalty held vigils across the state of Florida. 54 year old Zack was injected with a lethal dose of chemicals until he was pronounced dead less than 15 minutes after the execution began around 6pm last night. Allandale United Methodist Church and Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, or FADP, held a moment of silence for Zack, who was denied a stay of execution by the US Supreme Court on Monday. John Stewart is with Allandale United Methodist Church, and called for a moment of silence for Zack.
“Let us let us think of Michael Zack. Let us think of the family and survivors and friends of his victims and those in the death chamber who have been tasked to carry out this execution.”
Mark Elliot is a past president for FADP, and said that the execution should have been seen as unconstitutional.
“The state cannot execute someone who’s severely mentally ill. And however, that’s been the case in most of these instances of last six execution. So it’s not you know, it’s probably not constitutional, but there’s ways around it by saying okay, we have a procedure.”
Zack’s attorneys argued that he suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which they said caused him to function as being “intellectually disabled.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 2002 case known as Atkins v. Virginia that executing people with intellectual disabilities violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the court refused to consider FAS as an intellectual disability .
Herman Lindsey the executive director of Witness to Innocence, and is a former death row inmate who was exonerated and released after being found innocent. He says that it’s actually the Death Penalty that prevents the victims of crimes from realizing true justice.
“People that are supporting the death penalty don’t understand that they’re actually cheating the victims. Because a person that’s sitting and doing a life sentence has to think about those consequences every day of their life.”
Lindsey became the 135th person to be exonerated from death row since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S., and the 23rd person to be exonerated from Florida’s death row. Florida has the highest rate of exonerations from death row of any state in the nation. Since 1979 about one in three inmates on death row have later been found innocent and were exonerated.