Florida is set to execute a white man for killing a black person for the first time in the history of the state.
Mark Asay, who bears white supremacist and swastika tattoos, is due to be killed after 6pm at Florida State Prison in Railford on Thursday by a drug which has never been used in an American execution.
The sunshine state has not carried out an execution since that of Oscar Bolin 19 months ago which took place five days before the Supreme Court ruled the state’s capital sentencing law unconstitutional in January 2016.
Mr Asay, who is alleged to be a neo-Nazi, has spent nearly three decades on Death Row after being convicted of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.
The incident took place during a night of drinking and hunting for prostitutes with his brother Robbie and friend “Bubba” McQuinn. Mr Asay’s first victim was a black man named Robert Booker whom he witnessed having a conversation with McQuinn.
According to court documents, Mr Asay shouted at Mr Booker and hurled racial slurs and epithets at him. Although Mr McQuinn tried to intervene, Mr Asay is said to have grabbed his gun and shot Mr Booker in the stomach. When pressed about why he shot Mr Booker by his friend, according to court documents, Mr Asay replied: “You got to show a n***** who is boss.”
The group of friends then drove away continuing to look for women and encountered Renee Torres, who court documents identified as Robert McDowell, “a black man dressed as a woman.”
According to documents, Mr Asay is then said to have acted as a lookout while his two friends engaged in a sexual act. Nevertheless, Mr Asay then came back and dragged Mr Torres from the car and shot the victim six times.
Mr Asay is then said to have later told a friend Mr McDowell, who was mixed race, white and Hispanic, had previously cheated him out of money in a drug deal.
Despite the fact Mr Asay is set to become the first white man to be executed in Florida for killing a black man, at least 20 black men have been executed for killing white people since the state reintroduced the death penalty back in 1976, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center.
The planned lethal injection use etomidate, an anaesthetic that has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court, alongside two other drugs. It will also be the first execution in the entire US using an untested triple-drug lethal injection procedure.
Doctors employed by Mr Asay’s attorneys raised alarm bells about etomidate in court declarations and claimed there have been cases where it caused pain and involuntary writhing in patients.
In January 2016, the Supreme Court ruled Florida’s capital punishment system, which did not require unanimous juries before a judge imposes a sentence, was ruled unconstitutional. Now Florida’s Legislature requires a unanimous jury for death penalty recommendations.
While dozens of inmates on Florida’s death row are eligible to be resentenced, this is only the case if they were sentenced before 2002. This means that Mr Asay does not qualify.
Mr Asay is set to become the 24th inmate executed since the Governor of Florida Rick Scott took office. This is the most under any governor in Florida history.