Florida Physician`s Assistent William Mathews role during Florida executions
Prior coverage :
The execution of Pedro Medina on March 25, 1997, was a reprise of the Tafero execution. In the words of the trial court below:
When Pedro Medina was executed on March 25, 1997, the following events occurred. When the electrical current was activated, within seconds . . . smoke emanated from under the right side of Medina's head piece, followed by a 4 to 5 inch yellow-orange flame which lasted 4 to 5 seconds and then disappeared. After the flame went out, more smoke emanated from under the head piece to the extent that the death chamber was filled with smoke -- but the smoke was not dense enough to impair visibility in or through the chamber. The smoke continued until the electrical current was shut off in the middle of the third cycle. Although several witnesses to the execution tried to describe the odor of the smoke, only one witness, Florida State Prison Superintendent Ronald McAndrews, described the odor as burnt sponge. . . . This Court finds that the odor smelled was burnt sponge, not burnt flesh.
The physician's assistant, William Mathews, examined Medina's body. At that time, Medina was not breathing or exchanging air through his nostrils; his pupils were fixed and dilated; and he had an agonal pulse and heart sounds. When the physician's assistant was no longer able to detect any pulse or heart sounds, the attending physician, Dr. Almojera, examined Medina and pronounced him dead at 7:10 a.m. During Dr. Almojera's last examination Medina's chest was seen to move two or three times in a two to four minute period. A couple of witnesses thought Medina was trying to breathe. Several witnesses did not describe it as attempted breathing, but as a lurching, spasmodic movement, a shudder, and outward not upward movement. No witness, particularly those closest to Medina, could state that he was in fact breathing or attempting to breathe.10/24/97 Leo Alexander Jones, Pet v. Robert Butterworth, Etc.