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John Ruthell Henry Is Executed, 18th Inmate Put to Death on Rick Scott’s Watch

| June 19, 2014

John R. Henry

John R. Henry

John Ruthell Henry, who was convicted in the December 1985 murders of his estranged wife in Pasco County and her 5-year-old son in Hillsborough County, was executed by lethal injection Wednesday at Florida State Prison near Starke despite questions about Henry’s mental capacities.

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Henry is the 18th inmate executed on Gov. Rick Scott’s watch. No other first-term governor has signed the execution warrants of so many inmates since Florida re-instituted the death penalty in 1976. Since then, the state has executed 87 inmates. One in five of those has been executed on Scott’s watch, in less than four years.

The Henry execution came after a last-minute appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Henry, 63, was convicted of killing Suzanne Henry, who was stabbed repeatedly in the throat with a kitchen knife after the two argued in her home over presents for her son Eugene Christian. Henry then took the boy to Hillsborough County. Nine hours later, Henry used the same knife to kill the boy. Juries in both counties sentenced Henry to death, though the death warrant for the execution referred only to the murder of Suzanne Henry.

The murders occurred three years after Henry was released on parole for the 1975 murder of his first wife. The execution came a day after a divided 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the execution should be halted because of questions about whether Henry was intellectually disabled. The arguments centered on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found Florida had improperly used a “rigid” IQ score of 70 in determining whether Death Row inmates are intellectually disabled, a term that has replaced mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled earlier that it is unconstitutional to execute people who are intellectually disabled.


Henry’s attorney pointed to a test that showed Henry’s IQ as 78 and suggested that the IQ could be as low as 73. But in a 2-1 decision, the federal appeals court said Henry did not provide adequate evidence that he might be intellectually disabled, with mental-health experts never expressing such an opinion. Also, the majority said the U.S. Supreme Court did not make its recent ruling, known as Hall v. Florida, retroactive to cases on what is known as “collateral” review.

Death Row inmate Eddie Wayne Davis, 45, is scheduled to be executed July 10. Davis was convicted in a Polk County case of kidnapping 11-year-old Kimberly Waters in March 1994, sexually assaulting and strangling her and leaving her body in a dumpster. Davis was a former boyfriend of Waters’ mother.

There are currently 397 people on Florida’s death row, including five women. Of the total, 233 are white, 149 are black. Twenty-three people have been freed from death row because of errors, wrong convictions and new evidence coming to light.

–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida

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8 Responses for “John Ruthell Henry Is Executed, 18th Inmate Put to Death on Rick Scott’s Watch”

  1. Max Awesomeness says:

    Since we’re fast tracking executions in florida now, I gotta wonder how much the first civil lawsuit is going to be worth when an innocent is executed. Here’s hoping it’s a few hundred million, because a decision like that needs to be punished in the most painful way possible.

  2. Geezer aka Cap'n Crunch says:

    Capital punishment pleases the ignorant and bloodthirsty element in society.

  3. JG says:

    What a wonderful campaign ad for Rick!

  4. Seminole Pride says:

    Convicted in Dec. 1985, executed in June 2014. This is crazy. This murderer spent almost 19 years on Death Row, This so called Judicial system needs a complete overhaul. No condemned person should stay on Death Row no more than 2 to 3 years. Keep on signing Gov. Scott.

  5. Seminole Pride says:

    Correction: 29 years on Death Row !!

  6. Derrick R. says:

    Well done Mr. Scott.
    You have my vote.
    Charlie Christ is a joke to bit flip flopping liberal hack

  7. Outsider says:

    Seriously???!!! He killed his FIRST wife, then killed his second AND his son and we have people concerned because? And I find it unbelievable that anyone would oppose nuking this Eddie Wayme Davis who murdered an 11 year old girl after raping her. I suggest they re-schedule that one for July 4th, so they can immediately start the fireworks as soon as his cold heart beats it’s last beat. Why did we waste 19 years thinking about burning this trash when neither of these guys gave three minutes thought before killing these poor people. Nuke these animals now. And that’s not to satisfy my lust for blood, Geezer; it’s to make sure no one else falls victim to these vermin, as the first case clearly shows will happen if they ever got out of prison.

  8. Diana L says:

    Killing is wrong no matter who does it. I believe it is morally wrong for us to kill anyone.

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