(CN) - Florida executed inmate Jerry Correll Thursday night, shortly after a divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on behalf of the inmate who has been on death row for nearly 30 years.
Correll, 59, was sentenced to death in 1986 for fatally stabbing his ex-wife, his 5-year-old daughter, and his ex-wife's mother and sister. He was given a lethal injection at 7:27 p.m. Thursday night, and pronounced dead nine minutes later.
Prison officials told reporters that Correll was calm and "in good spirits" prior to his death, that he had a cheeseburger, French fries and a Coke for his last meal, and that one of his last conversations was with his surviving daughter by telephone.
He declined to make a final statement, the officials said.
Correll was sentenced to death on Feb. 7, 1986, for each of four slayings that occurred in Orlando, Fla., in July 1985.
He had been scheduled to die in February of this year, but his execution was put on hold after his attorneys raised concerns about Midazolam, the sedative used as part of the three-drug cocktail many states use to put inmates to death. Similar concerns had already raised before the Supreme Court, which also issued a stay in the execution of an inmate in Oklahoma.
Correll's attorneys argued Midazolam alone would not be a strong enough sedative to render him unconscious in light of his history of alcohol abuse and the brain damage he suffered as a result. A state court judge eventually ruled that Correll's execution could go forward, and the Florida Supreme Court later rejected arguments that his three decades on death row amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
On Thursday, Correll's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to postpone his execution until it rules on a separate case that asked whether judges in Florida had too much power in deciding death-penalty case.
A majority of the justices rejected Correll's appeal at 6:40 p.m. Thursday night. As is the court's custom, they gave no reason for their decision.
Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer said, "I remain convinced that the Court should consider whether nearly 30 years of incarceration under sentence of death is cruel and unusual punishment."
"In addition, whether Florida's sentencing procedures violate the Sixth and Eighth Amendments is now pending before the Court," he continued. "In my view, we should hold this petition for resolution of those issues in Hurst [v. Florida]."
Justice Sotomayor joined Breyer's dissent, saying she too believed the court should have stayed Correll's execution pending the outcome of Hurst.
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