STARKE – A man convicted in the 1991 sexual assault and murder of an aspiring artist in Orlando was executed Tuesday by injection.
Darius Kimbrough was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. at the Florida State Prison in Starke, officials said. He did not make any statement, telling officials “No, sir” when asked if he had any last words.
Kimbrough was condemned to die for the October 1991 killing of 28-year-old Denise Collins, who was attacked in her apartment as she slept. Experts testified at Kimbrough’s 1994 trial that blood and semen samples taken from Collins’ bed were compatible with the defendant’s DNA.
Collins’ mother and sister were among 24 witnesses, including news media, who attended the execution. Her mother, Diane Stewart, said the last 22 years have been “horrendous” while the family waited for the legal appeals to play out.
“This is well deserved,” Stewart told reporters. “Let’s see if we can pick ourselves up a little more and get on with our life.”
The sister, Annette Collins, said the execution was a numbing experience but also a relief.
“I’m just happy that Denise received justice. Wherever she is, I hope she is smiling down,” she said.
It was the second time a new mix of drugs was used in Florida since the previous execution in mid-October.
Kimbrough was not a plaintiff in a lawsuit by other inmates who have argued the use of the new drug mix should be halted as unconstitutional. The execution Tuesday appeared to go smoothly, with no apparent movements or unusual activity by Kimbrough.
In October, the state Supreme Court denied Kimbrough’s appeal, rejecting the argument from Kimbrough’s lawyers that he shouldn’t be executed because the jury recommendation wasn’t unanimous.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Kimbrough’s final appeal late Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier Tuesday, Kimbrough ate his last meal including pizza, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and chocolate chip ice cream. Kimbrough also met with a chaplain, his mother, three aunts, a cousin and a friend.
After Collins was killed, a neighbor at her Orlando complex told detectives he had seen a man near her apartment next to a ladder by the apartment’s balcony. The neighbor later identified Kimbrough, then 19, as the man from a picture lineup.
A maintenance man at the complex also said Kimbrough had watched him putting away a ladder in the complex around the time of the murder.
Kimbrough was found guilty at his 1994 trial, during which experts testified that blood and semen samples taken from Collins’ bed were compatible with the defendant’s DNA.
Florida first used the new lethal injection drug mix during the execution of William Happ on Oct. 15.
Death row inmates in Florida are seeking to stop the use of the new drug mix, asking federal courts to declare the procedure unconstitutional. Kimbrough is not one of the plaintiffs in the suit.
Attorneys for the inmates who filed the suit say the use of the sedative midazolam hydrochloride won’t prevent excruciating pain and suffering when the next two drugs are administered. Use of the mix would be a form of cruel and unusual punishment, thus violating the condemned prisoner’s rights, according to the complaint.