An appeals court decided that a man charged with sexual assault and killing an 11-year-old boy should be executed, in spite of a recent tend to halt capital sentences in the United States.
The decision whether to allow the execution of Mark Dean Schwab now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court, where the inmate has an appeal pending.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum expected the execution to proceed.
"At this time, there is nothing impeding the execution," said Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for McCollum.
Schwab's execution for the 1991 killing Junny Rios-Martinez would be the first in the state since the botched execution of Angel Diaz last Dec. 13. It took 34 minutes for Diaz to die twice as long as normal because the guards pushed the needles through his veins.
But many observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court to block Schwab's execution. The high court is considering the appeals of two Kentucky inmates who contend the toxic three-drug combination used for lethal injections there is cruel and unusual punishment.
Florida uses the same drugs, and Schwab's appeal was based on the same constitutional grounds.
Thursday's decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which came a day after a federal court in Orlando blocked the execution, noted the Supreme Court had not yet ruled in the Kentucky case, which means that Schwab's execution can go forward.
Schwab, who had an earlier sexual assault conviction, saw the boy's photo in a newspaper and gained the confidence of his family, claiming he was with the newspaper and was writing an article on him.
Schwab later called Junny's school and pretended to be Junny's father and asked that the boy meet him. A friend saw Junny get into a truck with a man.
During his trial, it was revealed that Schwab kidnapped the boy, bound his hands and face with duct tape and cut off the boy's clothes. He raped the crying boy before strangling him.
After the boy's murder, the Legislature passed the Junny Rios-Martinez Act, which prohibits sex offenders from early release from prison.
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