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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Florida to Consider New Execution Method

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Governor Lawton Chiles said Florida will consider changing its method of execution after a condemned murderer's black leather face mask erupted in flames as he was electrocuted.


"We'll be looking into ... whether lethal injection is a way in which we should be going,'' Chiles said. "But the question is really, 'Is this something that is torturous or painful?' ... And right now we don't have any indication that it is.''


The grisly death Tuesday of Pedro Medina, a Cuban refugee convicted of stabbing a teacher who had befriended him, prompted Florida's lead attorney representing death-row inmates to request a halt for two scheduled executions next month.


"It was brutal, terrible. It was a burning alive, literally,'' said Michael Minerva, a front-row witness to the execution who also heads the state agency that represents death-row inmates.


But Attorney General Bob Butterworth said Medina's gruesome end would act as a deterrent.


"People who wish to commit murder, they better not do it in the state of Florida because we may have a problem with our electric chair,'' he said.


It was the second time an inmate's mask has burst into flame during a Florida execution. The first time, in 1990, executions were suspended for three months.


At the First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, New Jersey, where Medina lived for less than a year, his supporters grieved his fiery death.


Lorry Post, a church member, said he hoped the gruesome scene would help attract attention to the inhumanity of the death penalty.


"The horror becomes more of a horror. If it were nice and clean and antiseptic, it wouldn't come to people's attention as much. People are noticing,'' Post said.