Updated 02/26/13 5:21 pm:
STARKE, Fla. (AP) - The execution of a South Florida drug trafficker, convicted of killing a state trooper with a pipe bomb, is on indefinite hold.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused the state's request to lift a stay of execution just hours before Paul Augustus Howell was set to die by lethal injection Tuesday.
The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. District of Appeal on Monday temporarily blocked the execution so it could consider a last-ditch appeal.
The state appealed to Justice Clarence Thomas who referred the case to the full court.
Howell was convicted of killing Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in 1992 with a bomb placed inside a gift-wrapped microwave oven.
Authorities said it was intended to kill two Marianna women, but Fulford stopped a car carrying the package for speeding near Tallahassee.
Updated 02/26/13 9:51 am:
STARKE, Fla. (AP) - The state is asking a U.S. Supreme Court justice to lift a stay of execution obtained by a South Florida drug trafficker who was convicted of killing a state trooper with a pipe bomb 21 years ago.
Paul Augustus Howell was set for execution Tuesday at Florida State Prison near Starke, but the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. District of Appeal on Monday temporarily blocked it. The state Tuesday asked Justice Clarence Thomas to lift the stay.
The Jamaican native was convicted of murdering Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford on Feb. 1, 1992.
Authorities said Howell hired a driver to deliver a gift-wrapped microwave oven with the pipe bomb inside to two Marianna women.
Fulford stopped him for speeding east of Tallahassee. The package exploded when Fulford tried to open it.
Updated 02/25/13 6:13 pm:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A federal appellate court has stopped the execution for now of a drug trafficker convicted of killing a Florida state trooper with a pipe bomb.
The 11th U.S. District Court of Appeal in Atlanta granted the stay to Paul Augustus Howell on Monday. He is scheduled to be executed Tuesday.
Howell's lawyers are appealing a federal judge's rejection of a last-ditch appeal. Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers, though, certified an appeal to the 11th Circuit.
The South Florida drug ring member was convicted of murdering Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in 1992. Fulford stopped a car for speeding in north Florida. He was killed when he opened a gift-wrapped microwave oven with the bomb inside after finding it in the vehicle.
Authorities say Howell intended the bomb kill two Marianna women because they knew too much about a drug-related killing.
If a stay of execution is not granted to a Florida death row inmate convicted of killing a state trooper, a group of faith leaders will hold a vigil for Paul Howell Tuesday—around the same time of his execution. They’ll also be holding a later service for the victim, former state trooper Jimmy Fulford.
Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty is holding the vigil for Paul Howell, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison. The group’s Chair Elect Sheila Meehan says she wishes there wasn’t a need for the vigil since she believes the state should consider other alternatives to the death penalty. Meehan says Howell, now a devout Christian, is a changed man.
“You almost never end up executing the person who committed the crime. There’s always a transformation that takes place with people in prison. And, I don’t think this is the same person,” said Meehan.
Howell’s vigil is slated to take place a 6 p.m. outside the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. There will also be a service of remembrance at the Capitol Wednesday for Jimmy Fulford. He’s the Florida Highway Patrol trooper Howell is convicted of killing with a pipe bomb about 20 years ago.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops are also holding vigils. Below is a snippet of their statement:
As a sign of solidarity with those around the state in prayer prior to the execution, the bishops have called for special prayer vigils to be held on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. local time at the following locations in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee: Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, St. Mary Parish in Fort Walton Beach, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Panama City, and St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in DeFuniak Springs.
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