TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said that it was wrong to ask Gov. Rick Scott to push back the execution date of a convicted killer after the initial time conflicted with a re-election fundraiser.
Marshall Lee Gore was originally scheduled to die by lethal injection this Tuesday, but Scott last month pushed back the date to Oct. 1. Gore’s execution had been scheduled twice before this year but he received a stay amid ongoing questions over his sanity.
When the latest date change was announced it was not publicly known it was done to accommodate a Bondi campaign event scheduled for the same night.
The Republican governor said he changed the date at Bondi’s request, but he acknowledged on Monday that he did not know that the reason was because it conflicted with the fundraiser scheduled in Tampa.
Scott, who would not say if he would have delayed the execution if he knew about the event, said it’s routine for the governor’s office to work in tandem with the statewide elected officials who make up the Florida Cabinet.
“When another cabinet member asks for something, we try to work with them,” Scott said.
Hours after Scott answered questions about the execution delay Bondi issued a statement that said she should have not have made the request.
“As a prosecutor, there was nothing more important than seeing justice done, especially when it came to the unconscionable act of murder,” Bondi said. “I personally put two people on death row and, as Attorney General, have already participated in eight executions since I took office, a role I take very seriously.
“The planned execution of Marshall Lee Gore had already been stayed twice by the courts, and we should not have requested that the date of the execution be moved,” she said.
Bondi worked for the Hillsborough County state attorney before she ran for attorney general in 2010. This summer she opened her campaign account for a second term. So far she has no declared opposition.
The attorney general plays a pivotal role in executions. It represents the state in death row appeals cases. Usually the attorney general remains available on the date of the executions in case of any last-minute legal issues.
Bondi’s office said that is why she sought a delay in Gore’s execution.
“In light of the seriousness of any execution, it was very important to Attorney General Bondi that she be available personally to carry out her office’s duties in the execution process,” said Jenn Meale, a spokeswoman for Bondi.
Bondi’s decision to seek a delay in the execution date because it conflicted with a fundraiser was first reported by The News Service of Florida.
Gore was convicted of the March 11, 1988, killing of Robyn Novick, a 30-year-old exotic dancer whose naked body was found in a rural part of Miami-Dade County, partly covered by a blue tarpaulin. Gore was also sentenced to die for the slaying in January 1988 of Susan Roark, whose body was found a few months later in Columbia County in northern Florida.
In addition to the two death sentences, Gore was given seven life sentences plus another 110 years in a case involving the attempted murder of a third woman.
The woman, an exotic dancer, testified during the trial for the Novick killing that she was beaten with a rock; choked, raped and stabbed; and left near the spot where Novick’s body was found. The woman was attacked two days after Novick disappeared. Novick had been stabbed and strangled.
Gore’s attorneys have argued before that he is mentally ill. One previous lawyer claimed Gore was “mentally deranged” and not responsible for his actions. But several judges concluded he was using a claim of mental illness to manipulate the judicial process.
Gore’s execution was first scheduled in June but he received a stay two hours before he was supposed to receive a lethal injection. He then received a second stay of execution a day before his July execution date. The Florida Supreme Court in August ruled that Gore was sane enough to be executed.
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