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Scott Signs 21st Death Warrant 3 Days After UN Vote Calling for Capital Punishment Moratorium

| November 25, 2014

Johnny Kormondy, left, and James Hazen.

Johnny Kormondy, left, and James Hazen.

Saturday afternoon, the United States joined China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and 29 other nations in opposing a vote at the United Nations to declare a moratorium on the death penalty. The resolution passed 113 to 36, with 34 abstentions. So far this year, 33 people have been executed in the United States, eight of them in Florida, second only to Texas, which executed 10 people.

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott, who has signed more death warrants in a single term than any other governor, on Monday signed his 21st death warrant, tying him with Job Bush, who signed 21 death warrants in eight years as governor.

The warrant is for the execution of Johnny Shane Kormondy, 42. His killing by lethal injection is scheduled for January 15 at 6 p.m. at the state prison near Starke.

Kormondy was one of three men involved in the murder of Gary McAdams–he was shot in the back of the head execution style–and gang-rape of his wife, Cecilia McAdams (who survived), during a robbery in Pensacola on July 11, 1993.

Curtis Buffkin, 23 at the time, was “the ringleader” who “got to carry the gun” and “took total command of his cohorts,” according to the prosecution. As the state’s first-degree murder case weakened, the state offered a plea to Buffkin in exchange for his testimony against his two co-defendants, James Hazen, 21 at the time of the crime, and Kormondy. The plea Buffkin was sentenced to life in prison. Hazen was initially sentenced to die. The Florida Supreme Court reversed, finding him less culpable than Buffkin. He’s serving a life sentence for rape and pre-meditated attempted first degree murder.

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Kormondy was 21 at the time of the crime. He led police to his accomplices after his arrest, and said Buffkin shot McAdams. But Buffkin, after the plea agreement, said Kormondy accidentally shot McAdams. Cecilia McAdams also said Buffkin was not the shooter. A jury voted 8-4 to sentence Kormondy to death. Florida is the only state in the nation where a simple majority of the jury, rather than a unanimous vote, can lead to a death penalty recommendation. In Alabama, a near exception, at least 10 of the 12 votes on the jury are required for a death recommendation.

In a 2005 hearing, Buffkin and Hazen recanted their statements and Buffkin admitted to shooting McAdams by accident, and that the gun was never in Kormondy’s hands at the time of the murder. He said he’d lied to “get a plea bargain” and was changing his story so “the family should really know what exactly happened.” A federal district court judge in 2011 conceded that evidence pointing to Kormondy as the shooting “is not conclusive,” but in an unusual shift of burden, he ruled that Kormondy had “not shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that he was not” the gunman.

Amnesty International, the human rights advocacy organization, subsequently reported that according to his clemency petition, Kormondy “accepts his responsibility in this case…, has shown remorse and has grown as a human being while being in prison.” He maintains that he did not shoot McAdams or rape Cecilia McAdams. In a deposition in October 1993, the detective who had taken this statement said that during the police interview, Kormondy was remorseful and “stated to us emphatically that he was not the one who shot Mr McAdams,” but was present when he was shot. Kormondy was most emphatic that he had not raped Cecilia McAdams, and willingly allowed the authorities to take blood and saliva samples. The detective stated that he “definitely believe[d]” that Kormondy and Buffkin “were present when the man was shot” and that “Hazen was in the rear assaulting Mrs McAdams at the time the shot occurred.”

Kormondy exhausted all his appeals.

Since 2007 there have been four United Nations resolutions calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, with support increasing each time. Overall, the votes in favor of last Saturday’s resolution increased by three since the last time a similar vote took place in 2012.

The vote, Chiara Sangiorgio, Death Penalty expert at Amnesty International, said, “confirms that more and more countries around the world are coming around to the fact that the death penalty is a human rights violation and must end. It is also a clear message to the minority of states that still execute – you are on the wrong side of history.”

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6 Responses for “Scott Signs 21st Death Warrant 3 Days After UN Vote Calling for Capital Punishment Moratorium”

  1. confidential says:

    After reading the details of that tragic end of Mr. McAdams and the horrible ordeal his wife endured at the hands of these criminals, my concern for this man’s appeal to avoid death dissappears…

    • Nancy N says:

      The information at that link came from the government’s case against the men at trial. As noted in Pierre’s article, serious issues have been raised in court about the veracity of the prosecution’s narrative since then. I wouldn’t take that account as gospel.

      All of that aside, click on the link above about the UN vote. Look at the list of other countries that voted against that resolution and ask yourself…am I comfortable being in this company? It’s a SCARY list. It’s downright embarrassing that we as a nation are voluntarily keeping company like that.

      • Twall says:

        Nancy, there are no serious issues about who committed this crime. As for the UN vote, I think that is meaningless. Am I a supporter of N. Korea or Iran? Of course not. BUt those nations execute people for political reasons. However, I am a supporter of Japan, they still employ capital punishment. Polls show there is actually strong support for capital punishment in large parts of Europe, though the EU bans it. Polls show a majority would be in favor in a few prominent west European nations, if it were possible.

  2. Sherry Epley says:

    In my mind, this is another example and symptom of our society and culture which is becoming more and more violent on many levels. . . and the media and politicians are promoting violence at every turn! Take a close look at the television programming and video games lived and breathed by the latest generations in our country. To think that there is no influence on one’s perception of humanity or “right and wrong” is pure folly!

    On another level, there are those that fear/hate others so much that their “guns will be taken only from their cold dead hands”. As the civilians in the USA arm themselves to the teeth, the law enforcement entities are forced to escalate this “internal arms race” to keep ahead of the local population, so they can continue to “protect and serve”. The trouble comes with the abuse of the growing power this arms race gives law enforcement officers.

    There has been a shift away from local police departs staffed by resident officers who are familiar with the families in the community where they work. The understanding of their responsibilities has also gradually shifted away from “protect and serve” to “control” or “defend against”.

    Violence begets Violence! How very sad and tragic for our entire society!

  3. Twall says:

    I am sorry, but this man deserves to be put to death. This crime was premeditated by all three and cruelly carried out with all three actively and willingly, and gleefully participating. The argument about there being uncertainty regarding who shot Mr. McAdams is irrelevant. Even if Kormondy didn’t pull the trigger, he participated in the crime and is legally eligible for execution. But the “uncertainty” about him pulling the trigger is brought about by the criminals statements which are of course self serving. Initially Kormondy said he was in the Kitchen but didnt pull the trigger, then he said he was in the bedroom with Mrs. McAdams at the time of the shooting (which means he was raping her). Then he claimed he didnt rape or shoot, and that it was Buffkin that shot Mr. McAdams. But Mrs. McAdams, who has no reason to lie, testified that Kormondy did rape her, but that at the time of the shot, Buffkin was raping her and Kormondy had gone back to the kitchen. I don’t think there is any doubt that Kormondy raped Mrs. McAdams and shot and killed her husband. This execution is justified.

  4. Janet West says:

    Having heard the words from Cecilia McAdams herself Kormandy is guilty. All 3 should be put to death and sooner than this. I waste no sympathy for any of them. Her life was devastated and altered in ways most people can only imagine. She has been forced to relive this nightmare time and again each time they have changed their stories or each time there was an appeal. While this won’t bring her husband back it will lessen the number of times she must endure the telling of events put in motion by these unworthy pieces of garbage.

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