Fla. executes inmate after 23 years on death row
Jose Antonio Jimenez was convicted of the fatal stabbing and beating death of a woman in 1992
By Tamara Lush
STARKE, Fla. — A man convicted of the fatal stabbing and beating death of a woman in Miami-Dade County 26 years ago was executed Thursday night in Florida.
Jose Antonio Jimenez, 55, received a lethal injection and was pronounced dead at 9:48 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was sentenced to death for the 1992 killing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas in her North Miami apartment.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal earlier Thursday.
The execution took about 15 minutes to complete and Jimenez had no last words to say. As the three-drug protocol was performed, Jimenez appeared to take numerous rapid, deep breaths and occasionally moved his head.
Minas' nephew, Alan Pattee, said in a written statement that his family believes justice was done.
"Mr. Jimenez has shown no remorse or repentance for his crime. My aunt was innocent and loving, and a faithful sister to my father," the statement said. "His execution will allow closure to a painful memory of the vicious murder Mr. Jimenez was responsible for."
Court records show that on Oct. 2, 1992, Minas found Jimenez in her second-floor apartment. During his trial, neighbors said they heard her screaming, and they tried to enter, but someone inside had locked the door.
Prosecutors at the trial said a fingerprint found on the inside of the apartment's front door matched Jimenez' print. Also, the building's custodian said he saw Jimenez jump from a balcony of Minas' second-floor apartment.
The defense argued that Jimenez didn't stab or kill Minas, and that all of the evidence against him was circumstantial.
Authorities say Jimenez was a cocaine addict who was burglarizing Minas' apartment when she came home and surprised him. Investigators said Minas, a longtime employee of the Miami-Dade Court Clerk's office, was stabbed eight times
After a weeklong trial, Jimenez was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to death.
After his arrest, Jimenez also was convicted of a prior burglary and second-degree murder in the 1990 death of another woman in Miami Beach.
Over the years, he filed various appeals. In an appeal filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this week, Jimenez and his attorneys said detectives who investigated the case gave "false or, at best, misleading testimony." Also, they said, several key police reports were lost.
Additionally, his attorneys filed a motion asking the court to issue a stay of execution and consider whether Florida's lethal injection protocol is cruel and unusual punishment and violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The lawyers pointed to the February execution of Eric Branch using the same drugs in which experts later concluded he felt significant pain, including screaming out the word "murderers!" several times as he thrashed about on the gurney.
The justices denied Jimenez's appeals and request for a stay of execution Thursday night.
In July, Gov. Rick Scott signed Jimenez's death warrant and scheduled the execution for August.
But the Florida Supreme Court issued a stay to consider a number of Jimenez's claims, including that he was denied access to public records, that the Florida drug protocol can cause him harm and that it was cruel for him to be executed after 23 years on death row. In October, the court denied all those claims and lifted the stay.
According to corrections officials, there have been 28 executions since Scott took office in 2011.
That's the most of any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.