Florida executes ex-cop for killing 9 in 1986
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
STARKE — A former Sweetwater police and Florida Highway Patrol officer convicted of nine murders was executed on Tuesday night.
Manuel Pardo, 56, was pronounced dead at 7:47 p.m., about 16 minutes after his execution by lethal injection began. The execution was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. but was delayed by last minute appeals to the Florida Supreme Court, which were denied.
Pardo was convicted of killing nine people during a 1986 crime spree in Miami. At the time, officials said Pardo's victims were killed over a span of three months and most were involved with drugs. Pardo said he was doing the world a favor with the murders.
After his arrest, he called himself a soldier and asked for the death penalty, according to published reports.
For his final meal on Tuesday afternoon, Pardo ate white rice and red pinto beans with roasted pork chunks. He had avocado and tomato slices with olive oil on the side, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ann Howard.
For dessert — pumpkin pie, eggnog and Cuban coffee. He had five to six packets of salt with the meal.
He had eight visitors, two of whom shared his last name.
Across the street from the prison, protesters of the death penalty arrived on a bus around 5:19 p.m.
The Rev. Philip Egitto from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona Beach led the group.
They stood in a circle and prayed and sang songs, and read the names of the victims. They held signs: "We remember the victims but not with more killing," one said.
Some protesters walked up to a bell with a sticker asking "what would Jesus do" on it, hit it and said some words.
The bell was loud and piercing and some protesters covered their ears. "Not in my name," one man said after he hit it.
"Forgiveness," another said.
Back at the execution area, four rows of chairs lined the execution viewing room. Seven people, family members of the victims, sat in the front row, their faces reflected of the viewing glass, which was obscured by a hanging curtain. A row of reporters sat in the back.
The room was quiet while everyone waited for the curtain to rise. At 7:30, it did. Pardo was on his back strapped to a gurney. Both arms were outstretched and his hands were covered in gauze. An IV line was in his arm. Timothy Cannon, assistant secretary of institutions, stood over Pardo. Cannon picked up a phone and talked to the governor, and then hung up. Cannon asked Pardo if he had a final statement. "Airborne forever," Pardo said, apparently about his military past. "I love you Michi baby."
"The preparation phase has ended," Cannon said. "The execution phase has begun."
Sixteen minutes later, a doctor checked Pardo and nodded at Cannon, who picked up the phone and pronounced Pardo dead.
In a statement handed out after the execution, Pardo apologized to his family for the "pain and grief I have caused all of you."
He wrote that he wished to set the record straight.
"I accept full responsibility for killing the 6 men," he wrote, "but I never harmed those 3 women or any female. I took the blame as I knew I was doomed and it made no difference to me, at the time, having 6 or 9 death sentences. I don't want this hanging over my head, especially these last few minutes of life, because my war was against men who were trafficing (sic) in narcotics, and no one else."
He closed the page-long statement asking his family to be strong. He told his daughter, who he called Michi: "I will always be a part of you and live in your heart, mind and soul. May God bless and protect you and everyone affected by this. I am now ready to ride the midnight train to Georgia."
Back outside of the prison, a man named Frank Judd, nephew of victim Fara Quintero, read a statement. He said the loss of his aunt may have happened long ago, but the pain from it always lingers.
He also said the execution was only a mild recompense for the loss.
"I don't feel it's enough justice for the atrocities this man committed," he said. "This man was not a soldier."
He sometimes stopped to catch his breath.
"RIP my beautiful angel," he said.
Before he left, Judd offered his condolences to the families of other victims.
"We understand their suffering," he said. "And that today may serve as an end to a terrible darkness."
Sun photographer Matt Stamey contributed to this report.
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