Friday, 2 February 2007

The Governor's Commission on the Administration of Lethal Injection held their first meeting

Please post & forward


The Governor's Commission on the Administration of Lethal Injection held their first meeting on Monday. As you know, then-Gov. Bush issued Executive Order 06-260 creating this panel to investigate the botched execution of Angel Nieves Diaz and make recommendations as to how administration of the procedures and protocols can be revised. Ex-Gov. Bush purposely limited the scope of their duties to prevent discussion of the Death Penalty. The goal is apparently to provide a quick fix, legal protection, political cover and to restore medical respectability...then get back to business as usual.

The Commission was ordered to hold at least three meetings (all open to the public). The preliminary report was scheduled for Feb. 1 (now Feb 15) and the final report issued by the Governor's office on March 1, 2007. The next meeting is Monday, Feb. 5 in Tampa and the third meeting is Friday, Feb. 9 also in Tampa.

There are eleven panelists. Governor Crist chose five, Attorney General McCollum chose three, Chief Justice of Florida Supreme Court Lewis chose one, Senate President Pruitt chose one, House Speaker Rubio chose one.

More information and details will soon be available at the web site on the Commissioners, Findings of the D.O.C. Task Force Report of Dec. 20, 2006 and affidavits from witnesses. Press coverage is available now at DP IN THE NEWS.


Some notes on Monday’s meeting:

The meeting was held in Conference Room A at the Offices of the Florida Bar, Tampa Airport Marriott Hotel. The meeting was attended by approx. 12 members of the press and CCRC attorney Todd Doss, Sol Otero-Angel Diaz's niece, Maria Nieves-Angel Diaz's sister, Becky Steele and Glenn Paul of the ACLU, Investigator Rosalie Bolin, Anti-DP Activist Martha Mortenson and myself. Forgive me if you were there and we didn’t get to meet.

Monday's meeting included the testimony of Neal Dupree, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel (CCRC - South) who sat on the first row in the witness gallery. He described Angel Diaz behaving like a fish out of water for 10-12 minutes, speaking out to guards, and contorting and grimacing as if in pain. He also saw nervous looking execution chamber staff making and receiving phone calls.

The next three witnesses were execution staffers who were uniform in their statements that they saw nothing amiss and did nothing wrong and that Diaz may have simply been straining to look at the clock…not contorting and grimacing in pain.

Warden Bryant testified that he makes the determination that "Medical Team" are qualified. He puts his hand on the prisoner's shoulder to signal the killing to begin. He inspects the iv sites during the execution for signs of problems...he saw none. He said Diaz mumbled something, but he didn't know what. He stated that Diaz showed no signs of pain or discomfort and that the only thing unusual about this execution was the length of time.

Assistant Warden Polk testified that he saw nothing unusual other than unexpected additional phone calls and length of time. He heard Diaz say "What is happening?" and the rest was inaudible. He stated that Angel Diaz was snoring during the process and that this is the case in every other execution in which he has participated.

Physician's Assistant William Matthews testified that his only involvement was that he witnessed the procedure. He stated that after the procedure was finished and merely out of curiosity, he inspected the iv sites and saw nothing unusual except some slight swelling at the right arm site. He stated that in his twenty-six years at the prison, he has participated in every execution. He could not recall how many.

It is apparent that the D.O.C. staff are using a prison “Code of Silence” to stonewall the investigation. However, there were descriptions of some goings-on in the execution chamber that have not been completely officially described. The Execution Physician and Physicians’s Assistant are both hooded and masked. Secret “Medical Team” members assist two mystery executioners who hide behind a partition, push on syringes and peek through a hole while the killing takes place. (They act like they are ashamed…and they should be).

The Commission failed to ask key questions and assertively challenge the Corrections officer’s accounts.

A soundproof glass wall separates the execution chamber from the witnesses. The execution staff are claiming that the witnesses on the other side of the glass misjudged Angel Diaz’s contortions and simply misunderstood what took place. Grimacing and straining against his bonds?...just looking at the clock. Speaking?...just mumbling something. Struggling for 12 minutes to breathe?...just snoring.

The Commissioners asked about the Autopsy report from the Medical Examiner and were told that it is still not completed. Contacts are to be made to expedite the report so it may be available for review.

The Commissioners agreed to call the following witnesses at their meetings:

Execution Physician and Execution Medical Team members who will testify by phone to conceal their identities.

An Anesthesiologist familiar with lethal injection.

Angel Diaz’s Spiritual Advisor who sat next to Neal Dupree on the first row of witnesses.

The Execution Chamber FDLE Agent observer, who the D.O.C. prohibits from taking notes.


It is clear that the Dept. of Corrections is continuing the cover-up that began immediately following the botched execution of Angel Diaz. Remember the official D.O.C. statements we heard at the press conference the night of the execution that have since been disproved:

1. The extra time and drugs for Angel Diaz’s execution were anticipated…untrue.
2. He had a liver disorder that slowed the absorption of chemicals…untrue.
3. The D.O.C. planned to use additional chemicals on Diaz…untrue.
4. He was sleeping and snoring during the procedure…then why did witnesses say he was contorting, grimacing and acting like a fish out of water for 12 minutes?


The Execution Doctor, Physician’s Assistant and Execution Medical Team staff, as well as the three Physicians on the Commission, are in an extremely awkward position. The American Medical Association Guidelines restrict them from participating in any way with executions, including pronouncing death and devising procedures for executions.

Dr. William Plested III, the AMA President, has advised that physicians on the panel recuse themselves from helping to develop new lethal injection procedures.

What can we do?

Write a letter to the editor. Some points:

The continued cover-up by the D.O.C.

The ridiculous explanations for contortions & grimaces as just straining to look at the clock and the 12 minute fish out of water actions as merely snoring.

The foot long burns on Angel Diaz’s arms.

The official duty of the Governor’s Commission to break the soundproof glass wall of silence so the truth can be heard. They need to ask tougher questions.

The need for public testimony at these public meetings.

An end to secrecy in the execution chamber.

The AMA guidelines restrict doctors from participating in any way in executions. Pronouncing death and devising procedures are considered participation.

By devising more efficient and effective ways to kill prisoners, our doctors are becoming executioners or the executioner’s henchmen.

Lethal Injection was first devised by the personal physician to Adolph Hitler.

Why are our doctors involved in a government program to kill prisoners?


Try to attend a Commission meeting. They are being held Monday, Feb 5 at 10AM and Friday, Feb 9 at the Tampa Airport Marriott Hotel, in the airport terminal. Office Level, Offices of the Florida Bar, Conference Room A. Florida Bar Assoc., Tampa - (813) 879-5151.

Special thanks to Sol Otero for her notes.

Shine the Light,

Mark Elliott
Director, Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty,

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal."
"The time is always right to do what is right."
Martin Luther King

No comments: