On Thursday August 24, 2017 the State of Florida executed Mark Asay - who we all knew as "Catfish", even though there was absolutely no question that he was illegally sentenced to death and in an unprecedented act, only days before he was put to death the Florida Supreme Court recognized that the factual basis for the theory upon which he was prosecuted was wrong.
Specifically, Asay was prosecuted on the theory that he had killed two blacks for no other reason than that they were black. The media repeatedly characterized him as a "white supremacist" and the state bragged to the media that Asay would be the first white person ever executed in the state of Florida for killing a black person. But the problem is, Asay didn't kill any black person. As the Florida Supreme Court recognized only days before Asay was executed, the one victim ( Robert McDowell) was not black (contrary to what prosecutors told the jury!), but was white, or maybe mixed white/Hispanic - but not black.
As for the second victim, Asay has always said that he did not kill Robert Booker - but nobody would listen. For 30 years the prosecutor never disclosed evidence that indicated that, according to three witnesses, Roland Pough actually killed Booker. This undisclosed evidence also revealed that shortly after these witnesses identified Roland Pough as the person who actually killed Booker, the Jacksonville police shot and killed Pough in what their own interdepartmental investigation showed was an "unjustified" shooting - the cop claimed that his gun accidentally misfired, killing Pough. That was awfully convenient - Asay's jury never knew about that.
Last year when I was on death watch counting down the days to my own scheduled execution, Mark Asay was also down there with me. I've personally known 'Catfish" for about 30 years and he's never once wavered in admitting that he shot the transvestite prostitute McDowell that night when he "spontaneously" stripped while drunk - but that he did not kill Booker. And that while he was previously associated with a "white supremacy" group in a Texas prison, he got away from that and race had nothing to do with what happened that night - he was drunk.
One consolation is that I also knew that "Catfish" found comfort in his own strong religious beliefs as a "born again" Christian. As with so many victims of injustice he had long ago abandoned any faith in the politically corrupt "justice" system, and accepted that truth means nothing to the courts when it comes to carrying out the death penalty - and prosecutors will never admit they were wrong.
The question now becomes who will be the next? To be honest, I expected them to immediately reschedule my own execution the next day after they killed Catfish and I am now the only other person (in Florida) under an active death warrant and previously granted stay of execution lifted. In the past Governor Scott has consistently signed a new death warrant (or re-cheduled one previously signed) the morning after an execution was carried out, and then scheduled each execution precisely 5 weeks apart. This is why he has put more people to death than any other governor in Florida history - and he still has over a year left in office.
For that reason, the morning after they killed Catfish I was expecting them to come get me and take me back down to death watch. But they didn't come. And so I went through a long weekend of uncertainty, assuming that they'd come early Monday morning instead. But again, they didn't come. And nobody else was scheduled either. Governor Scott had broken his pattern - but why? Could it be that now that Scott is running for a seat on the United states senate (elections are in early November 2018) he's starting to see the death penalty as a political liability?
The reality of it is that public support for the death penalty has been consistently dropping and is now at almost historic lows, barely over fifty percent - and that support drops even lower if people are given a choice of mandatory life sentences instead of death.
Equally so, Governor Scott knows that while his won political base - rural deep south Rabid Redneck Republicans - ("R.R.R.") fanatically support the death penalty - but he cannot win that seat on the US Senate he wants with only their support as he's running against a very popular Democratic incumbent, Senator Bill Nelson. That means that Scott will need support beyond his typical R.R.R. base.
That also means that any controversy surrounding even one execution could easily cost him any chance of winning next years Senate election and as we all know only too well, when it comes down to it, the administration of the death penalty is not about justice, but the politics of a vengeance driven system.
It was for that reason that up until recently Governor Scott was all but pathologically methodical in selecting whose death warrants he would sign - he deliberately focused on so called "serial killers" and the child killers and those who killed law enforcement. each death warrant he signed was a strategic play to win votes.
But there were only so many of those high profile killers eligible for a death warrant and it didn't take long before he ran out of those and found himself in a real political dilemma - his support base wanted more executions but there were not many left on Florida's death row legally eligible to be executed as they still has appeals pending and had not yet had their obligatory "clemency review", required before a death warrant can be signed.
As it stands at the time I am writing this (August 31) no new death warrant has been signed. Governor Scott could sign a new warrant tomorrow - it could be me, or someone else.
It used to be that as long as you had legitimate appeals still pending they would not sign a death warrant. But as evidenced by Mark Asay's case, under Governor Scott the signing of death warrants are now being used to stack the deck in favor of the state, as they know that by signing a warrant the courts will be far less likely to grant relief.
I currently have four (4) appeals pending in various courts, with two petitions in front of the United States Supreme Court specifically arguing my actual innocence and a new state appeal arguing that because Florida law now mandates an unanimous jury vote to condemn anyone to death, my non-unanimous jury vote renders my death sentence illegal.
In the fourth and most recently filed Petition for Writ of Habeas corpus, my lawyers lay out how the readily available evidence, including DNA evidence, substantiates my consistently plead claim of innocence and that I'm constitutionally entitled to a full review of this evidence before the State of Florida puts me to death.
You can read this "actual Innocence" appeal HERE, or go to the Florida Supreme Court website and pull up Lambrix v Jones, case No SC17-5153. But would innocence be enough to avoid execution?