Sister hopeful brother's looming execution will be blocked

Man who killed 2 in Jacksonville in 1987 set for execution next week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With six days until the execution of death row inmate Mark Asay, his sister said Friday that lawyers are fighting tooth and nail as they try to introduce new evidence and receive a stay from the Florida Supreme Court. 

Asay, 53, who was convicted in 1988 of the murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell in downtown Jacksonville, is scheduled to be the first inmate executed in Florida since Oscar Ray Bolin on Jan. 7, 2016. 

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But Asay's sister, Gloria Dean, said he's not going down without clearing his name. During an interview with News4Jax, Dean reacted to the Florida Supreme Court refusing to hear new evidence and block her brother's scheduled execution date of Aug. 24.

Asay, who was sentenced to death nearly three decades ago, was one of two death row inmates whose executions were put on hold by the Florida Supreme Court in early 2016 after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case known as Hurst v. Florida, struck down as unconstitutional the state's death penalty sentencing system. Lawmakers later revamped the sentencing system.

Lawyers for Asay have been trying to get the execution blocked, saying the lethal injection drugs the state uses amount to cruel and unusual punishment, and can cause inmates to suffer.

Rejecting those arguments, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday refused to blocked the execution set for next week. 

Dean, an avid collector of photos, showed News4Jax she's now collecting documents that, if accepted by the Florida Supreme Court, could grant Asay a stay. 

"(The new evidence) is many things. The way they handled this case in the beginning. The fact that they convicted him of killing black people and he didn't," Dean said. 

In a petition to the court, Asay's attorney states the ballistic evidence presented by the state was materially inaccurate under the Eight Amendment, and the evidence that showed the same gun used in both homicides was flawed and unreliable. 

On top of that, the petition states the state failed to disclose favorable evidence, such as police reports and information, that wasn't provided at the time of trial or during the prior collateral proceedings. Asay's counsel didn't receive that information until last year. 

With nine justices on the Supreme Court, Asay will need five of them to stay his execution. Dean has been talking with her brother's attorney, and she said they are hopeful. 

"(If) we get this stay, we can have more time to move," Dean said. "He feels like we have that chance, like he told me. And he said we may not win, but he's going to give it his best shot."

News4Jax anchor Tom Wills will be interviewing Asay on Tuesday -- two days before the scheduled execution. 


The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.