STARKE, Fla. – More than 26 years after murdering a Miami-Dade County woman during a burglary of her home, Death Row inmate Jose Antonio Jimenez was executed by lethal injection late Thursday at Florida State Prison.
The execution was carried out at 9:48 p.m., according to the state Department of Corrections, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected final appeals. Earlier Thursday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also had turned down an appeal.
Jimenez, 55, was the first inmate put to death in Florida since Feb. 22, when Eric Branch was executed in the 1993 murder and sexual assault of University of West Florida student Susan Morris. Jimenez also was the 28th inmate executed since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 --- the most of any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a Department of Corrections list shows.
Scott, who will leave the governor’s office in January, signed a death warrant for Jimenez in July and scheduled the execution for Aug. 14. But the Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 10 issued a stay of execution while it considered the case. Justices in October lifted the stay, allowing Scott to reschedule the execution.
Jimenez was convicted in the October 1992 killing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas, whose neighbors heard her shout, “Oh God! Oh my God!” during the attack, according to court documents. Neighbors tried to enter the home through an unlocked front door after hearing Minas’ cries, but Jimenez slammed the door shut, locked it and fled by going onto a bedroom balcony.
Attorneys for Jimenez filed a series of final appeals, including arguing that a constitutional amendment approved by voters Nov. 6 should spare him from execution. Those arguments involved part of Amendment 11 that changed what is known as the “Savings Clause” in the Florida Constitution -- a provision that deals with the retroactive application of new criminal laws.
Jimenez’s attorneys contended that 2017 revisions to death-penalty laws should be applied to him because of the constitutional amendment. But the Florida Supreme Court this week flatly rejected the arguments, in part because the constitutional amendment will not take effect until Jan. 8.
Jimenez began Thursday by waking up at 7:30 a.m. and was described by the Department of Corrections as being calm. He ate a last meal at 9:30 a.m. of a turkey-and-ham Cuban sandwich, five over-easy eggs, French fries, root beer and vanilla and chocolate-chip ice cream with chocolate syrup. He later met with a spiritual adviser.