Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a death warrant for an inmate convicted of committing three murders in Florida, including a Jacksonville murder that sent him to Death Row.
The execution of Gary Ray Bowles is scheduled for Aug. 22 at Florida State Prison, according to documents the governor’s office filed late Tuesday afternoon at the state Supreme Court. Bowles, 57, would be the second inmate put to death since DeSantis took office in January, with serial killer Bobby Joe Long executed on May 23.
In his two terms, Gov. Rick Scott signed the death warrants of 27 inmates, by far the most of any governor since executions resumed in 1976.
Bowles is serving life sentences in the 1994 murders of John Roberts in Daytona Beach and Albert Morris in Nassau County, according to documents filed at the Supreme Court and information on the Florida Department of Corrections website. Roberts had given Bowles a place to live. Bowles murdered a total of six men and ended up on the FBI’s most-wanted list during his fugitive years. He was featured on America’s Most Wanted in 1994. The death warrant, however, is for the November 1994 murder of Walter Hinton, who was found dead in his Jacksonville mobile home.
“A construction worker and street hustler,” the Washington Post reported at the time of his arrest in 1994, “Bowles allegedly targeted older gay men he met in bars, police said. He savagely beat, shot or strangled his victims, mutilated or defiled their corpses and then disappeared with their cars, cash and credit cards, officials said. […] The Washington gay community expressed relief yesterday over Bowles’s arrest. Employees of the Lambda Rising bookstore in Dupont Circle wrote “Captured!” in red letters on the FBI poster of Bowles taped next to the front door.”
A 1999 sentencing document included in the Supreme Court filing said Bowles brutally killed Hinton, with whom he’d been living–and in whose mobile home he remained for two days after the murder. It said Bowles brought a 40-pound stepping stone into the mobile home, put the stone on a table and sat down and thought for a few moments. “He then entered Mr. Hinton’s bedroom and dropped the cement stepping stone on Mr. Hinton’s face,” the sentencing document said. “Mr. Hinton sustained a skull fracture which extended on the right side of his face across his cheek to the roots of his teeth. Despite the force of this blow, Mr. Hinton did not die or lose complete consciousness.
In an effort to save his life, Mr. Hinton struggled with the defendant.” The document said Hinton was then choked and had toiled paper stuffed down his throat, with a rag placed over the toilet paper.
Before his 1994 arrest for murder, Bowles had been arrested numerous times and served five stints in prison, including for aggravated battery, the aggravated rape of his girlfriend, grand theft, and armed robbery.
–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida