Florida executes man for 1993 rape and killing

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STARKE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Florida Execution (all times local):

Florida has executed a man convicted of raping and killing a college student in 1993 so he could steal her car.

Authorities say 47-year-old Eric Scott Branch was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. Thursday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison.

Branch was convicted of the rape and fatal beating of University of West Florida student 21-year-old Susan Morris, whose naked body was found buried in a shallow grave near a nature trail.

Evidence shows that Branch approached Morris after she left a night class on Jan. 11, 1993, so he could steal her red Toyota and return to his home state of Indiana. He was arrested while traveling there.

Branch also was convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Indiana and of another sexual assault in Panama City, Florida.

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6:30 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied last-minute appeals to halt the execution of a Florida inmate convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of a college student.

The court rejected the appeals of 47-year-old Eric Scott Branch without comment Thursday, about a half hour after his scheduled execution was initially to have taken place. Authorities can now proceed with a lethal injection at Florida State Prison.

Branch was convicted in the death of 21-year-old University of West Florida student Susan Morris, whose naked body was found buried in a shallow grave.

Evidence in the case shows that Branch approached Morris after she left a night class on Jan. 11, 1993, so he could steal her red Toyota and return to his home state of Indiana. He was arrested while traveling there.

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6 p.m.

Florida authorities are awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether to proceed with executing an inmate convicted of the rape and murder of a college student.

Forty-seven-year-old Eric Scott Branch was set to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison. But that time passed with correction officials still awaiting a decision on the inmate's final appeals.

Branch was convicted in the death of 21-year-old University of West Florida student Susan Morris, whose naked body was found buried in a shallow grave in 1993.

Evidence in the case shows that Branch approached Morris after she left a night class on Jan. 11, 1993, so he could steal her red Toyota and return to his home state of Indiana. He was arrested while traveling there.

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4 p.m.

A man scheduled for execution in Florida for raping and killing a college student in 1993 has had his last meal and was described as in good spirits.

Barring a last-minute stay, 47-year-old Eric Scott Branch will be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Michelle Glady says his last meal was a pork chop, T-bone steak, French fries and 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. He was visited by his daughter this morning and refused a meeting with a spiritual adviser.

Branch was convicted of the January 1993 rape and fatal beating of 21-year-old University of West Florida student Susan Morris. Authorities say Branch killed Morris so he could steal her car. The woman's body was found buried in a shallow grave.

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Florida is scheduled to execute a man convicted of raping and killing a college student in 1993 so he could steal her car.

Barring a last-minute stay, 47-year-old Eric Scott Branch will be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison.