Florida executes Donald Dillbeck; first inmate to die since 2019

STARKE, Fla. — Florida executed its first death row inmate since 2019 on Thursday, as convicted murderer Donald Dillbeck was put to death by lethal injection.

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The governor’s office said that Dillbeck, 59, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. EST at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Dillbeck had been convicted for murdering Faye Vann, 44, in 1990, after he escaped from prison, fatally stabbing her in a Tallahassee shopping mall parking lot in an attempted carjacking, according to The Associated Press.

It was the third execution under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the news organization reported. His predecessor, Rick Scott, had 28 inmates put to death. The execution was the 100th in the state since the Florida Supreme Court allowed the practice to resume in 1975, the Sun reported.

The last Florida execution was on Aug. 22, 2019, when Gary Ray Bowles was put to death, WPTV reported.

Dillbeck’s final statement was directed toward DeSantis.

“I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up,” Dillbeck said. But I know Ron DeSantis has done a lot worse. He’s taken a lot from a lot of people. I speak for all men, women and children. He’s put his foot on our necks. Ron DeSantis and other people like him can (expletive).”

Dillbeck was into his 11th year of a life sentence for killing a deputy when he escaped from a work release detail that was catering a meal for a seniors event, the AP reported, citing court records.

He then bought a paring knife and walked to Tallahassee.

Vann was waiting for her family when Dillbeck approached her and demanded a ride, claiming that he had forgotten how to drive, according to the AP. Vann honked her horn and attempted to drive away. She fought with Dillbeck but was stabbed more than 20 times and had her throat cut, according to court records.

Then-Gov. Bob Martinez fired three corrections officials and worked to implement rules that would prevent inmates with life sentences would not be held in minimum security prisons, the AP reported.

Dillbeck’s final appeal was rejected on Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Sun reported.

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