After 30 years on Florida’s death row, Jerry Correll was killed by lethal injection at 7:36 p.m. on Thursday.
Correll, 59, sentenced to death for the first-degree murders of an entire family in 1986, was the state’s first inmate to be executed after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam in June.
Midazolam, a sedative, is used in the lethal injection process.
In 1985, Correll murdered his 5-year-old daughter, Tuesday Correll; his ex-wife, Susan Correll; his ex-wife’s mother, Mary Lou Hines; and his ex-wife’s sister, Marybeth Jones.
McKinley Lewis, communications director for the Florida Department of Corrections, said Correll awoke Thursday at about 6 a.m.
“He continued to be calm and in good spirit,” Lewis said.
Correll’s last meal consisted of a cheeseburger with ketchup, mayo and mustard, along with french fries and Coca-Cola.
Correll was pronounced dead about an hour and a half after his scheduled time of 6 p.m. The delay came because of legal action in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A witness who was inside the viewing room said Correll’s arm shook and convulsed. During the press conference after the execution, Lewis was asked if that was normal.
“[Correll] did say it was cold,” Lewis said. “One thing you have to remember is that this inmate hadn’t been in an air-conditioned environment for 31 years. That room is cold. It’s a very air conditioned room.”
Correll had no visitors before his execution. His daughter, two grandchildren, brother and sister-in-law visited him last week. He also spoke to his daughter on the phone on Thursday morning.
Among the witnesses who viewed the execution were family members of the people he killed. The victim’s family opted not to talk to the press, Lewis said, and released a statement:
We, the family of Mary Lou Hines, Marybeth Jones, Susan Correll and Tuesday Correll, are at peace knowing justice has finally been served. Our prayer is that all those affected by the actions of Jerry, including his family, can continue to heal and find peace.
People gathered across the road to pray for Jerry Correll in a small plot of land state troopers designated for those opposed to the death penalty. A similar plot, designated for supporters and separated from those in opposition by six state troopers and their vehicles, was empty.
Father Phil Egitto, from Our Lady of Lourdes in Daytona Beach, Florida, said life without parole would be a better option for those convicted of committing serious crimes.
“I’ve been coming to every execution for the last 20 years,” he said. “We’re here to pray for the inmates, for the victims and the family of those victims. Somebody in prison for 20 years is not the same person of 20 years ago.”
Gov. Rick Scott signed the death warrant for Correll in January, but it was put on hold due to a U.S. Supreme Court case on whether midazolam violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The case also involved an Oklahoma execution since the two states use the same drug for executions.
This is Scott’s 22nd execution, the most for any governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. It also puts him one ahead of former Gov. Jeb Bush.