Scott Resets Execution Date of Thomas Knight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The execution of a man who killed a prison guard while on death row has been rescheduled for Jan. 7.
Gov. Rick Scott set the new date Friday in a letter to the warden of Florida State Prison.
Askari Abdullah Muhammad, formerly known as Thomas Knight, had been scheduled for execution Dec. 3. The Florida Supreme Court delayed the execution and ordered hearings on a claim that the sedative midazolam hydrochloride - which is used in the state's new lethal injection procedure - doesn't prevent pain after being administered. The court ruled Thursday that the new drug effectively renders condemned inmates unconscious before drugs to induce paralysis and cardiac arrest are administered.
Florida has used midazolam in two executions - William Happ on Oct. 15 and Darius Kimbrough Nov. 12. The state previously used pentobarbital to render prisoners unconscious.
Knight, 62, has been on death row for nearly 40 years. He was convicted of fatally stabbing Corrections Officer Richard Burke with the sharpened end of a spoon in 1980.
Knight was originally condemned for the 1974 murders of Sidney and Lillian Gans of Miami Beach. He received two death sentences for their slayings.
Knight worked for Sidney Gans, who owned a paper-bag plant and made it a practice to give ex-cons a second chance by hiring them.
Knight abducted Gans from the company's executive parking lot and, armed with a rifle, forced Gans to drive home, where they picked up Gans' wife.
Knight demanded $50,000 and forced Gans to drive to a Miami bank, where his company had an account. Bank officials alerted police, who launched a search as Knight drove the couple 20 miles into then-undeveloped southern Miami-Dade County.
As police closed in, Knight killed the couple execution-style, shooting them both in the back of the head at close range. Police found Knight hiding in the brush several hours later.
Two months later, while awaiting trial, Knight escaped from the Dade County Jail. Before he was recaptured, Knight and an accomplice robbed a liquor store in Cordele, Ga., shooting two clerks, killing one of them.
The death warrant refers only to the death sentence connected to Burke's murder.
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