STARKE, Fla. (AP) — Florida prison officials on Thursday executed a man convicted of the 1994 rape and slaying of an 11-year-old girl. It was the state's seventh execution this year.
Eddie Wayne Davis was executed by injection at Florida State Prison at 6:43 p.m.
Davis, draped in a white sheet and strapped to a table with his hands covered in white material, declined to say any final words before his sentence was carried out.
Executioners put the IV needle into Davis' left arm around 6:30 p.m. Davis began muttering to himself after the process began -- prison officials said he was saying prayers -- but witnesses in the viewing area couldn't hear what he was saying because the speakers had been turned off.
Davis' chest heaved up and down for about five minutes and his eyes fluttered before he went motionless, his face ashen. There did not appear to be any outward signs of pain. A doctor came into the room and shined a penlight into Davis' eyes. He then checked for a heartbeat.
Afterward, the execution team leader called the governor's office, then officials declared Davis dead.
Davis, 45, was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in the slaying of Kimberly Waters, the daughter of a woman Davis had dated briefly.
Davis broke into his ex-girlfriend's trailer in the central Florida community of Lakeland seeking beer money, according to court documents. Prosecutors say he found Waters sleeping, and that he woke the girl and took her to an abandoned trailer in a neighboring park and raped her.
After the rape, Davis took Waters to a nearby Moose Lodge, where he beat her and suffocated her with a piece of plastic before dumping her body in a trash can.
Waters' grandmother, Mary Hobbs, came to the prison but stayed outside during the execution.
"I don't need to see it. I just need to know it's done," she said. "It's an absolute relief ... to know it's over and justice has been served. It's been a long time coming."
About two dozen anti-death penalty protesters gathered across the street from the prison. One sign read "We remember the victims. But not with more killing." Two pro-capital punishment protesters also appeared.
Davis' execution was the second in Florida since the lethal injection process came under fresh scrutiny in April when Oklahoma prison officials stopped the execution of Clayton Lockett. They halted it after noticing the deadly drug mixture was not being administered into his vein properly.
Lockett died minutes later of a heart attack.
Florida uses a three-drug mixture to execute prisoners: midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
The drugs are administered intravenously, and are intended to first induce unconsciousness, then paralysis and finally cardiac arrest. Midazolam, a sedative used commonly in surgery, has been part of the three-drug mixture since 2013. Sodium thiopental was used before that, but its U.S. manufacturer stopped making it and Europe banned its manufacturers from exporting it for executions.
Davis made a last-ditch appeal to have his execution delayed, arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that he had a health condition that made injection of the drugs incredibly painful, which violated the Eight Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. But the court rejected the argument, and allowed the execution to proceed.
Waters' mother Beverly Schultz died in a motorcycle crash in 2004, but four of the girl's aunts and uncles attended the execution.
Fighting through tears afterward, Kimberly's uncle Tom Briner said the family had waited a long time for this day.
"Twenty years, four months and six days and we finally have justice," he said.
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