A man convicted of the 1994 rape and killing of an 11-year-old Florida girl is set to be executed Thursday with the victim's grandmother watching from the witness chamber on behalf of the child and her deceased mother.
Eddie Wayne Davis, 45, is scheduled to receive a three-drug injection at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison for his 1995 conviction on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Kimberly Waters, whose mother had briefly dated Davis. It would be the sixth execution in Florida this year and the second in the state since the death penalty came under fresh scrutiny in April.
In late April, Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of inmate Clayton Lockett after noting that the lethal injection drugs weren't being administered into his vein properly. The procedure was stopped but he died of a heart attack several minutes later.
In Florida, three members of Kimberly's family say they plan to witness Davis' final moments. Mary Hobbs, Kimberly's grandmother, said her daughter — Kimberly's mother — was killed in a motorcycle crash. Hobbs said she feels a special duty this week in seeing Davis put to death.
"I need to be there to represent my daughter and my granddaughter," she said. "My daughter never lived to see this happen and that just breaks my heart."
Kimberly's mother, Beverly Schultz, had broken up with Davis after learning about his criminal history, Hobbs said. Davis had served prison sentences for a string of burglaries. They broke up six months before Kimberly's slaying.
According to court documents and detectives, Davis found Kimberly sleeping in her mother's bed while her mother was working a double shift at a nursing home. He gagged her so she wouldn't wake up her 13-year-old sister in another room.
Prosecutors said Davis took the 11-year-old girl to a trailer, raped her and later beat her. Kimberly fought back as Davis suffocated her by pressing plastic over her face. His DNA was found under her fingernails. When she stopped breathing, he threw her body in a commercial trash bin.
"I feel he was striking back at (my daughter)," Hobbs told The Associated Press recently. "But it was senseless."
In 1995, he was convicted by a jury in Polk County, a central Florida county in between Tampa and Orlando.
Florida uses three drugs — midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride — for executions. The drugs are administered intravenously, intended to induce unconsciousness, paralysis and cardiac arrest. Midazolam, a sedative routinely used in surgery, has been part of the three-drug mixture since 2013. Previously, sodium thiopental was used, but its U.S. manufacturer stopped making it and Europe has banned its manufacturers from exporting it for executions.
Other states use the same three drugs, and they were administered in the April execution in Oklahoma.
Davis has appealed his death sentence, maintaining that he suffers from a rare medical condition that would cause him extreme abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting after the first drug is injected. His lawyers said that the pain would violate the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
On Monday, the Florida Supreme Court rejected his argument. Other appeals to the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Supreme Court are possible.
Hobbs said she wants the world to know that Kimberly's family still cares about her and still remembers her life — Kimberly loved being in nature, butterflies and wildflowers.
"After 20 years, it still hurts," said Hobbs. "It makes you wonder, what would she have become?"
Florida's last execution happened on June 18. John Ruthell Henry, who was convicted of killing his estranged wife and her son, was put to death; he was among three people who were executed in the US during a 24-hour span in June.