STARKE - The federal court in Jacksonville refused this afternoon to grant a stay of execution for Lake County child killer Richard Henyard but appointed a lawyer to continue to pursue a last-ditch civil-rights appeal challenging the state's use of lethal injection.
With time running out on appeals before his scheduled execution at 6 p.m., Henyard, 34, was "somewhat quiet and withdrawn, but he is respectful," said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.
His new civil-rights lawyer immediately filed a new appeal with a federal appellate court in Atlanta. Henyard, 34, had filed the civil-rights complaint this morning in federal court, alleging that the state's "execution team" lacks training and could cause him to suffer a painful death if they "fail to properly insert the IV's as they did in (Angel) Diaz." Diaz' botched execution in Dec. 2006 caused the state to temporarily halt executions.
Henyard, set to die at Florida State Prison, wrote the complaint by hand, assisted by Mark S. Gruber, who has handled his death appeals for the state-funded Capital Collateral Regional Commission. It also alleges: "The drugs that will be used by the Department of Corrections have been known to cause excruciating pain."
The state Supreme Court has ruled that challenging the death-penalty procedure is beyond the scope of the Capital Collateral Regional Commission, whose job is to handle trial-related appeals.
Henyard was sentenced to death for the 1993 murders of two Lake County girls, Jamilya and Jasmine Lewis. The sisters, ages 7 and 3, were carjacked along with their mother from a Eustis grocery store parking lot by Henyard and a juvenile accomplice, Alfonza Smalls. Henyard and Smalls, serving consecutive life terms for the crimes, took turns raping the girls' mother before shooting her four times. Prosecutors said Henyard then shot the girls as they cried out "Mommy." The girls' mother, Dorothy Lewis, survived, though she was shot between the eyes.
The U.S. Supreme Court has not issued any rulings in two other appeals that Henyard filed with them, Plessinger said.
If the execution takes place, Henyard likely will remain silent.
"He's not planning on a last statement," Plessinger said. "Of course, that could change."
She said that Dorothy Lewis' new husband, Hugh Brockington, is among family members who were granted permission to witness the execution. Plesinger said they had not arrived yet. She believed two of the other family witnesses were uncles to the two girls.
Meanwhile, Henyard had a final meal of two fried-chicken breasts, turkey sausage, fried rice, chocolate-chip cookies and Coca-Cola. He didn't eat all of it, Plessinger said.
The condemned man was meeting late this afternoon with his spiritual advisor, Is-Hak Saddique, a muslim cleric. Henyard became a Muslim while in prison, Plessinger said. A prison chaplain also was on standby, she said.