Robert Lavern Henry, 55, was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. after
receiving a lethal injection, said Misty Cash, a spokeswoman for the
Florida Department of Corrections.
Henry was convicted of two counts of murder in the November 1987
killings of his co-workers, Janet Cox Thermidor and Phyllis Harris.
The three worked at a Florida fabric store, where Henry, a
custodian, attacked the women and stole $1,269 from the store,
according to testimony at the trial.
Henry initially admitted to bludgeoning the women and dousing them
with a flammable liquid that set fire to the store. He later
recanted on the witness stand, blaming unidentified robbers.
Harris, 53, died at the scene but Thermidor, 35, survived for
several hours and was able to identify Henry to police.
Attorneys for Henry petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court this week to
block his execution by challenging Florida's lethal injection
method. The high court denied the request.
Florida started using the sedative midazolam hydrochloride last year
as the first of three lethal injection chemicals, after the
manufacturer of the previous knockout drug, sodium pentobarbital,
stopped selling it for use in executions.
In appeals, Henry's attorneys claimed he suffers from high blood
pressure, arterial disease and a cholesterol condition that could
produce painful results during the new injection procedure.
The lawyers contended Florida's Department of Corrections has not
proved midazolam safely anesthetizes condemned prisoners, to prevent
them from feeling the pain of two subsequent drugs that paralyze the
body and stop the heart.
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Henry's attorneys cited evidence provided by Dr. Joel Zivot, an
anesthesiology professor at the Emory University Medical School, who
said Henry's personal condition "creates an imminent, substantial
and objectively intolerable risk of serious harm" in reaction to
The Department of Corrections has maintained in court that the drug
fully anesthetizes prisoners so they do not suffer when the second
and third drugs are injected.
State and federal courts have rejected similar medical challenges to
the use of midazolam in past Florida executions.
(Editing by Kevin Gray, Gunna Dickson and Cynthia Osterman)
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