Askari Abdullah Muhammad, 62, who was known as Thomas Knight when
he killed his former employer and his wife in 1974, was pronounced
dead at 6:45 p.m. EDT (2345 GMT) from a lethal injection, said Misty
Cash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.
Muhammad won a stay of execution last month after he legally
challenged the use of a sedative, midazolam hydrochloride, as the
first in a series of three drugs used for lethal injections in
The state switched to midazolam last year when makers of another
sedative, pentobarbital, refused to supply it to states using the
drug in executions.
Attorneys for Muhammad said the new drug was an ineffective sedative
and caused inmates to suffer pain when the subsequent two drugs — a
paralytic agent and heart-stopping drug — were administered to
complete the injection process.
A Florida circuit judge ruled, however, there was insufficient
evidence of pain in two previous executions carried out with
midazolam last year.
Muhammad was sentenced to death for the 1974 murders of Sydney and
Lillian Gans in Miami. Muhammad had previously worked for Gans at a
paper bag company, and abducted him from a parking lot with a rifle,
forcing Gans to drive home and get his wife before making them
withdraw $50,000 from a bank.
He shot the couple in the back of their heads and fled but was
captured a short time later.
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Muhammad escaped while awaiting trial and was implicated in the
fatal shooting of a liquor store clerk in October 1974 in Cordele,
Georgia. He was not charged in that case but was returned to Florida
for trial in the Gans murders.
In 1980, while on death row, Muhammad stabbed correctional officer
Richard Burke while being escorted to a shower room. Three years
later, he was sentenced to die for Burke's killing.
Muhammad made a final appeal in late December, arguing that the
state withheld evidence of his mental condition that might have
disputed premeditation in the slaying of the prison guard.
The state's highest court rejected that appeal without comment on
(Editing by Kevin Gray, G Crosse and Steve Orlofsky)
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