Florida executions: How death row inmates spend their last day

Louis Gaskin
Louis Gaskin

On Wednesday, convicted murderer Louis Gaskin was scheduled to be executed by the state of Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the 56-year-old's request for a stay.

Gaskin, also known as the "ninja killer," was scheduled to be put to death via lethal injection at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Raiford.

The convicted murderer has spent the last 33 years on death row for fatally shooting Robert and Georgette Sturmfels, a Palm Coast couple, in their home on Dec. 20, 1989.

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Here is what occurs on the day of the execution, according to the Florida Department of Corrections:

The lethal injection chamber at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.
The lethal injection chamber at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.

What happens on a death row inmate's last day?

  • An execution team is formed to include: an executioner, the institutional warden, a spiritual advisor and a team warden.

  • For a last meal, the inmate may request up to $40 worth of food and a non-alcoholic drink of their choosing as long as it's available at the institution and is approved by the director of food service.

  • The inmate takes a shower under the supervision of a team member of the same gender.

  • After the shower, the inmate returns to their cell and is issued clothing.

  • Once in the execution chamber, the inmate is given the opportunity to make a final statement before the drug cocktail is administered.

At the time of execution

A member of the execution team will turn on the PA system and Gaskin will be allowed to make a final statement. After the final statement, or if Gaskin refuses to say anything, the execution begins.

What's in the lethal injection?

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, the state uses a three-drug protocol in this order:

  1. Etomidate (sedative)

  2. Rocuronium bromide (paralytic)

  3. Potassium acetate (stops heart)

Prior the lethal injection, the inmate may choose to receive an injection of hydroxyzine "to ease anxiety," according to state protocol.

What if something goes wrong?

After the administration of the first round of drugs, if Gaskin is determined to be conscious, the team warden will stop the process. The time will be noted and the curtains to the witness gallery will be closed.

If no defect in the process of delivering the drugs is found, the curtains to the witness gallery are opened and the execution continues.

After the execution

The warden will sign the death certificate and Gaskin's body will be removed by a funeral home. Gaskin's body will then be transported to the medical examiner's office in Alachua County for an autopsy.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Florida executions: What happens to inmates on their final day?