By | 25 Feb 2023 at 3:44 PM
First Death Row Execution in Florida in Nearly Four Years

Thursday marked the first execution in Florida in nearly four years for a carjacking that resulted in the brutal murder of a woman more than three decades ago.

The governor’s office reported that Donald Dillbeck, 59, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. ET in Florida State Prison. Dillbeck, who was executed by lethal injection, was convicted of killing Faye Lamb Vann, 44, in a Tallahassee mall parking lot.

Counsel for Dillbeck requested that the U.S. Supreme Court halt his execution, but their request was denied. After the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and reinstituted executions in Florida in 1979, this was the state’s 100th execution.

In a Carjacking, Dillbeck Killed Vann

Dillbeck had escaped from a work-release catering job in Gadsden County, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1979 murder of Lee County Deputy Dwight Lynn Hall, 31, and was on the run at the time of the crime.

Dillbeck’s age at the time was fifteen. Dillbeck fled to Florida, where he was found by the deputy in a parking lot on Fort Myers Beach. While Hall searched for Dillbeck, he struck the deputy in the groyne and fled the scene. After Hall had tackled him, Dillbeck shot him twice using Hall’s gun as a weapon.

According to court documents, Dillbeck had served eleven years of a life sentence for murdering the deputy before abandoning his work release assignment. Upon purchasing a paring knife, he walked to Tallahassee. According to court documents, in 1990, while Vann was waiting for her family at the mall, Dillbeck approached her car brandishing a knife and requested a ride.

According to court documents, Vann resisted Dillbeck’s attempts to stab her more than 20 times and slit her throat while she fled in her car. Shortly thereafter, he caused the car to crash, and he was seen fleeing when he was apprehended.

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Final Meal

Dillbeck carried out his regular activities on the day of his execution, Department of Prisons spokesperson Michelle Glady said on Thursday.

He visited with his spiritual adviser, she said. At 9:45 a.m., he had his last meal: fried shrimp, mushrooms, onion rings, butter pecan ice cream, pecan pie, and a chocolate bar, the Tallahassee Democrat, part of the USA TODAY Network reported.

Thursday at six o’clock the curtain between the viewing room and the death chamber was opened.

His last words: “I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up.” He also criticized Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying “he has done a lot worse. He’s taken a lot from a lot of people. I speak for all men, women and children. He’s put his foot on our necks.”

Dillbeck closed his eyes at 6:02 p.m. when the execution started. He was pronounced dead around ten minutes later.

The Governor Thanking by Family

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, approximately sixty people gathered outside the gates of the Raiford prison in north-central Florida on Thursday to pray and hold a vigil. In the prison’s execution viewing room, Vann’s family members were among those who witnessed his lethal injection.

There, they stood and observed with stony eyes. Tony and Laura Vann issued the following statement following the execution: “11,932 days ago, Donald Dillbeck brutally murdered our mother.

We were robbed of years of memories with her, and we have been inconsolable ever since. The execution “has provided us with closure,” they said, praising DeSantis for executing it.

100th Prisoner Executed

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Dillbeck was the 100th prisoner to be put to death since the death penalty was reinstated in the state in the middle of the 1970s and the first prisoner to be put to death in Florida since 2019.

The execution was the third to take place under DeSantis and the first in Florida in almost four years. In contrast, the current Republican U.S. Senator Rick Scott presided over 28 executions.

Florida has been one of the states that have carried out the most executions since the death penalty was reinstated. Governor Robert Graham, a Democrat, presided over 16 executions between 1979 and 1987.

During his one tenure in office, Martinez oversaw nine executions, Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles oversaw 18, and Republican Governor Jeb Bush oversaw 21 executions. During his brief tenure in government, Governor Charlie Crist presided over five executions.