Today's Bradenton Herald reports, "Execution of murderer raises new questions about the death penalty in Florida." It's written by Mary Ellen Klas.
The execution of Paul Augustus Howell scheduled for Tuesday has put Florida’s death penalty process under the microscope again.
Howell, 42, was convicted in 1992 of the pipe-bomb killing of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in Jefferson County, east of Tallahassee. If he dies by lethal injection as scheduled, his attorneys say, he will be the first Florida inmate to die without his case having been reviewed in federal court under a habeas corpus appeal. They argue Howell deserves that review — and a chance to seek another trial.
They say the court never heard about the conflict of interest involving his trial attorney, the failure to tell the court of Howell’s brain damage, his paranoia, child abuse or his lost court files. And the court never heard about Howell’s inadequate representation from the appellate lawyer who missed a crucial deadline for his federal review.
“Lawyers who never met the client in the 13 years they represented him lost his records in a flood and haven’t asked for new ones,” said Sonya Rudenstine of Gainesville, a new attorney hired by the inmate’s family. “If it weren’t so tragic, it would be a comedy of errors.”
The Florida Supreme Court rejected an appeal last week by Howell’s new attorneys. The court said it could not address claims he may raise in federal court. His attorneys have filed a new request in federal court in Tallahassee.
The habeas corpus review is routine in death-penalty cases in which the federal government provides inmates with an experienced, federally funded lawyer to have his case presented before a federal court as a final layer of protection before execution.
Howell’s last-minute appeal for more time comes as the Florida Legislature is moving in the other direction — toward limiting the time inmates should have to get their cases reviewed.
The latest AP report is, "Execution final act in 1992 Florida traffic stop," by Bill Kaczor. It's also via the Bradenton Herald.
What began as a routine traffic stop on Interstate 10 in rural north Florida quickly escalated into the killing of a state trooper and launched a multi-state investigation that unraveled a major crack cocaine ring 21 years ago.
That chain of events is set to end with the execution Tuesday of South Florida drug trafficker Paul Augustus Howell for murdering Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford with a pipe bomb on Feb. 1, 1992.
Howell's execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison near Starke pending a last-ditch stay his lawyers were seeking in state and federal courts.
"Florida To Execute Death Row Prisoner Paul Howell Without Giving Him Final Federal Appeal," is by Hunter Stuart at Huffington Post.
A man currently sentenced to death will be executed next week by lethal injection without receiving his final federal review, a routine right for prison inmates that is universally recognized across the country.
Michael Ufferman, one of the lawyers representing Paul Howell, a 47-year-old man on death row for killing a state trooper in 1992, told The Huffington Post that Howell was wrongfully denied an appearance in federal court because his previous attorney missed a filing deadline for the appeal.
Ufferman says there is mitigating evidence that needs to be considered. For example, he says Howell suffers from mental health issues and was abused as a child.
The Florida Supreme Court denied Howell's appeal for a stay of execution on Tuesday, NBC local affiliate WESH reports.
Gov. Rick Scott, who got rid of a state committee that monitored capital punishment in order to save $400,000 a year, has the power to withdraw the death warrant for Howell, Ufferman said. But so far, Scott has not done so.
When asked if the governor had plans to grant a stay of execution, his spokesman sent HuffPost the following statement: "Under Florida law, it is the Governor’s duty to make decisions on cases involving capital punishment, and he takes this solemn duty very seriously."
"Mr. Howell is not getting a second look to see if the state court made any mistakes or didn't follow clearly established federal law," said Rick Sichta, an attorney on the board of directors at the Florida Capital Resource Center, which provides support to prisoners facing death sentences. "We're just taking the state court's word for it right now. It's common that when you get up to the federal level, federal courts have a different opinion."
Earlier coverage of the Florida case of Paul Howell begins at the link.