Brother of murder victim has waited 30 years for killer's execution

Mark Asay set to be put to death Thursday evening at Florida State Prison

By Francesca Amiker - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In 48 hours, the brother one of two Jacksonville men Mark Asay killed 30 years ago hope they will finally feel relief.

Asay, 53, was convicted of the murders of Robert Lee Booker and Robert McDowell, shot to death separately the morning of July 18, 1987. Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Asay early last year, but his and all other executions were put on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court found that Florida's death penalty was unconstitutional because it did not require unanimous jury recommendations at sentencing.

The legislature rewrote the death penalty law twice, and it has finally passed all legal challenges. Asay’s lawyers continue trying to get the execution blocked by saying the lethal injection drugs the state uses amount to cruel and unusual punishment and can cause inmates to suffer.

The Florida Supreme Court has rejected those claims. If it is carried out, Asay's execution would be the first in Florida in 19 months.

One of Booker's 13 siblings told News4Jax that waiting 30 years for this execution is too long. Several have passed away over the past three decades. His oldest living brother, Frank Booker, is now 69 years old.

"Justice, I feel, will be served," Frank Booker said of the pending execution. "But if it doesn't, then I know the justice system has failed."

Booker said he would like to be at Florida State Prison in Stark Thursday night to see Asay executed, but fears he would pass out because he suffers from seizures. He said some of his sisters might be there, and he has thought about what he would say if he had the chance.

"All I have to say to him is, 'You know what you did, and now it's your time,'" Frank Booker said.

He knows Asay has denied killing Robert Booker, although not being totally innocent. He said that again Tuesday during a death-row interview with Tom Wills.

"The truth is that I committed murder of Robert McDowell, not of Booker," Asay said. "It is just a coincidence that I had an altercation with the black male on Sixth Street. He ran off and then the next day they found Mr. Booker. So circumstantially it is plausible that I am responsible for Mr. Booker, but the only connection between me and Mr. Booker is ballistics."

Booker doesn't buy it.

"I don't, because he's the type of person that would take a life and it think twice about it. He has that mentality, and a person with that mentality, I think that they should be put off the face of the earth," he said.

The execution will finally bring what's left of the Booker family some peace.

"To tell you the truth, it relieves me a lot. It takes a lot of pressure off of me and off the family, because we have been waiting all these years for this to happen," Booker said.

Asay's execution would make Asay the 24th Death Row prisoner put to death since Scott -- who has ordered more executions than any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 -- took office in 2011.

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