Thursday, 24 January 2008

Death row inmate Mark Dean Schwab denied hearing

The Florida Supreme Court this morning ruled in favor of a lower court's decision.

Sarah Lundy

Sentinel Staff Writer

1:59 PM EST, January 24, 2008

The Florida Supreme Court this morning ruled in favor of a lower court's decision to deny death row inmate Mark Dean Schwab an evidentiary hearing to present what his attorneys called new evidence.

Schwab - who has been on death row since 1992 - was convicted of raping and killing 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez of Cocoa. He was set to be executed by lethal injection on Nov. 15 at Florida State Prison in Starke. Hours before the execution, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay.

The country's top court has delayed several executions across the country since late September after agreeing to review a Kentucky case. The justices are considering whether the way Kentucky and other states, including Florida, administer the three-drug combination to death-row prisoners is constitutional. An opinion is expected this summer.

While the U.S. Supreme Court deals with the constitutional issue, Schwab's attorneys were working to get their client a hearing to present evidence by a doctor who testified in Schwab's 1992 sentencing. They also want to show how the state isn't prepared to proceed with the injection. Notes - taken by state officials during five mock executions in July - show how participants botched two of them.

Brevard Circuit Court Judge Charles Holcomb disagreed, saying the mock executions followed previous execution guidelines and were not relevant to current protocols. Holcomb wrote in the order that he did not think the doctor's new opinion would have an effect on the death sentence.

The Florida Supreme Court backed Holcomb's ruling.

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