Florida will mark the first time in its history that a white man will be executed for killing a black person. The execution is set on Thursday and it will be done with the aid of a drug that will also be used for the first time in the history of U.S. execution.
Only a stay could prevent Mark Asay, 53, from meeting his death as he is scheduled to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.
Asay’s execution will be Florida’s first since the U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to the practice in the state almost two years ago. The execution is expected to be carried out using etomidate, an anesthetic that has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Two other drugs will be utilized as well.
Prosecutors said Asay, a white man, fatally shot black man Robert Lee booker, 34, after making several multiple racist comments. Asay’s second victim was 26-year-old Robert McDowell, who was of mixed white and Hispanic race. Prosecutors also revealed tat Asay had then hired femininely-dressed McDowell for sex and shot him six times after discovering his gender.
Etomidate is the first among three drugs administered in Florida’s new execution cocktail. It is meant to be a replacement for midazolam, which has been increasingly harder to obtain after many drug companies started refusing to provide it for execution purposes. The etomidate is followed by rocuronium bromide, a paralytic, and finally, potassium acetate, which stops the heart.
There have been opposition to etomidate despite the state’s high court’s approval. Lethal injection expert Jen Moreno says: “It’s never been used in an execution before. There are outstanding questions about whether it’s going to do what it needs to do during an execution. The state hasn’t provided any information about why it has selected this drug.”
Asay will make history as the state’s first white man to be executed for killing a black man while there have been at least 20 black men executed for killing white victims since the capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1976.