Convicted killer Mark Asay has been executed after 30 years on death row, marking the first time that Florida has put a white man to death for killing a black man.
Mark Asay, 53, was convicted in 1987 of killing black man Robert Lee Booker and Hispanic cross-dresser Robert McDowell. Since then he’s been in Florida State Prison in Raiford.
At 6pm, Asay was given three injections that would kill him, beginning with the anesthetic etomidate, which has never before been used in an execution. By 6:22pm he was pronounced dead.
Mark Asay (pictured Wednesday) was executed on Thursday at Florida State Prison for a double homicide in the 1980s. He gave no final words before his lethal injection
Asay was given the anesthetic etomidate, which has never before been used in an execution. It’s replaced another anesthetic which is harder to procure since medical companies declined to sell for purposes of killing
Asay declined to give a final statement before his execution, and showed no indications of pain as he died, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said.
His final meal was fried pork chops, fried ham, French fries, vanilla swirl ice cream and a can of Coke, News4Jax reported.
He finished the fries and ice cream, ate most of his ham, about 20 percent of the pork and drank the entire can of soda.
His death marks two firsts for the state.
One is the first time etomidate has been used in an execution.
The anaesthetic was the first of three injections given to Asay, to knock him out before lethal chemicals were introduced into his system.
It replaced midazolam, which was the previous anaesthetic of choice, but which had been difficult for prisons to procure after medical companies declined to sell for the purposes of execution.
The second of the two ‘firsts’ is that Asay is the first white person to be executed in Florida’s history for killing a black man.
On Wednesday Asay wept as he spoke in prison, claiming that he was ready to die and that he was a born again Christian. But he said he would rather have lived
Murder: Asay was convicted of killing Robert Lee Booker (left) and Robert McDowell in 1987. The convict (seen right in old mugshot) admitted killing McDowell but denied Booker’s murder
And on the eve of Thursday’s execution, a tearful Asay opened up about the killings, his newfound religion, and why he felt he should either go free or be executed immediately to News4Jax.
Asay was convicted in 1987 of the racially charged murders of Robert Lee Booker, a black man, and Robert ‘Rene’ McDowell, a Hispanic cross-dresser.
The then-23-year-old Asay was hauled in by police in July of that year after Booker’s body was found under the porch of an abandoned house in Jacksonville.
McDowell’s body was found at a crossroads nearby. Both men had been shot, and a candy-apple-red truck with a missing bumper was spotted leaving the scene of McDowell’s killing.
I never intended to murder him. It just happened
Mark Asay on his killing of Robert McDowell in 1987
That truck was traced to Asay, who has admitted to killing McDowell, a former friend of his, but denies murdering Booker, who was linked to him with ballistic evidence.
When asked if he had anything he wanted to say, Booker tearfully told the channel: ‘Well, really, just that I’m sorry and things just got out of control.’
Saying that McDowell’s death came as he was ‘having a meltdown,’ Asay said they had been friendly until the man took money from him.
‘I knew Robert McDowell as Rene,’ he said. ‘I had previous encounters with him, and we were sociable, and he did take money from me one time.
‘I had said, in my mind, “When I see him, I’m going to kick his a**.” But I never intended to murder him. It just happened.’
Inked: Prosecutors said that he killed both men in a racist attack, and pointed to his white supremacist tattoos – which he’d since covered up with other images (pictured) as proof
Defense: Asay said he got the racist tattoos to protect himself when he was imprisoned for burglary age 19, and has since got rid of those he can
Asay claims he was drunk to the point of unconsciousness when he shot McDowell six times, and that he doesn’t ‘know what happened.’
‘I can only look at it in hindsight,’ he said, as he began to choke up again. ‘But I know that anybody that says I’m not concerned, don’t know me.’
Prosecutors, who mistakenly identified the Hispanic victim as a light-skinned black man, painted the killing – and that of Booker – as a hate crime. Authorities have only recently acknowledged that mistake.
I’ve removed every racial tattoo I had, except for the ones that I can’t reach
Asay on the white power ink he says he got to survive in prison aged 19
They also said that his white supremacist tattoos, including one that read ‘supreme white power,’ proved his prejudice.
However, he denies that he’s a white supremacist and says he only got the ink done because it was the only way to survive ‘in a hostile prison environment’, when he was locked up for a burglary and auto theft, aged 19.
‘They are not representative at all of who I am, but they are tattoos, and they’re not easily removed,’ he said.
‘I have covered them up. I had a swastika on my elbow; I covered that up. I had an SWP on my arm; I burned it off. I’ve removed every racial tattoo I had, except for the ones that I can’t reach.’
Denial: Asay (seen in recent mugshot) said he never killed Booker. And as McDowell was Hispanic, not a light-skinned black man as prosecutors thought, he argued it couldn’t have been a racist attack
‘I’ve had African-American friends all my life,’ he added. ‘But I’ve had to live in very hostile environments, and I’ve had to manage the best I could.
‘While it’s a poor choice, it’s a choice I made, and I can’t undo it.’
Killing McDowell is another choice; but Asay claims that the punishment he has received for that decision is far greater than it should have been.
He says that he never killed Booker – whom he admitted had cheated him in a drug deal – and that the ballistic evidence that connected him to the death has been proven to be wrong.
And, he says, the death penalty was imposed because it was painted as a racially motivated killing – even though the only victim he will admit to killing was Hispanic, not black, as prosecutors claimed.
He says the government was acting in ‘good faith’ at the time of the prosecution, but in the wake of those revelations, he wants to get his conviction changed to second-degree murder and be released for time served.
If that’s not an option, however, he says he’d rather die.
Wanting out: Asay said the Booker ballistic evidence connecting him to the crime is faulty and he should be released for time served on second-degree murder
‘No, I don’t want life in prison [even] if they had an institution that had Ramada Inn-style housing. Prison is prison. I have served 36 years of my life in prison.
‘If the purpose of prison is not accomplished now, it’s never going to be accomplished.
I want out of prison – through the front door or the back
Asay on his impending execution, scheduled for 6pm Thursday
‘If the purpose is just to protect me from society and protect society from me, OK, I accept that, but I’m saying I’m not a violent person or a threat to society.
‘But if the government is like, “Well, we can’t be sure,” then I’m prepared to submit to the execution Thursday and go on and be at peace with my Lord.’
Asay, who is a born again Christian, says that his faith is giving him comfort in the hours before his death, and that he is ready to die.
‘I’m loved by the Lord. I’m 100 per cent confident that if I’m going to get relief here, it’s because of the truth,’ he said.
‘And if I’m not going to get relief here, it’s because the Lord knows that my life here on Earth will not be productive.
‘Because I pray, and I say, “I’ve had all of the prison I want. So I want out of prison – through the front door or the back.”‘
Discovery: Booker’s body was found under this porch. Asay said whatever happens, he’s done with prison after 30 years – and he wants out ‘through the front door or the back’
Unfortunately for Asay, there looks to be no way out alive now. He was scheduled to die last year, until his execution was postponed at the last minute.
But last month Governor Rick Scott signed Asay’s new death warrant.
And that means he’ll be killed by lethal injection at 6pm on Thursday.
That will make him the first white man to be executed for killing a black person in the history of Florida.
His pending execution will be carried out for the first time with the help of a drug that has never been used previously in any US execution.
It is expected to be carried out using etomidate, an anesthetic that has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court.
Death penalty experts say the drug is unproven, while state corrections officials say the choice has been reviewed. Two other drugs also will be used.
The execution is Florida’s first since the US Supreme Court halted the practice in the state more than 18 months ago.