Feb. 26 Update–Paul Augustus Howell, who was sent to Death Row for the 1992 murder of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, was executed Wednesday at Florida State Prison near Stark. Howell, 48, was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m., according to the Gov. Rick Scott’s office. Howell, who had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as his final meal, was the 15th Death Row inmate executed in Florida since Scott took office in 2011.
There were five executions during former Gov. Charlie Crist’s single term and 21 during the two terms of former Gov. Jeb Bush. Howell was convicted in January 1995 in the death of FHP trooper Jimmy Fulford during a traffic stop three years earlier. Fulford was killed by a pipe bomb that Howell had put inside a microwave oven and placed in a gift-wrapped package. The bomb was intended for a Marianna woman who could identify Howell, who with his brother was involved in a South Florida drug ring, for a prior murder. On Feb. 13 of this year, Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ruled that a new lethal-injection drug used by the state would not violate Howell’s rights.
The hearing, held in Jefferson County Circuit Court at the direction of the Florida Supreme Court, focused on the state’s use of midazolam hydrochloride as the first drug in a three-drug cocktail in executions. Midazolam, which the state began using last year, is supposed to anesthetize prisoners before the other drugs are administered. Howell’s attorneys contended that the inmate has medical conditions that would lead to the drug not working properly, violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Tallahassee Citizens Against the Death Penalty are scheduled to hold a service of remembrance at noon Thursday at the Florida Capitol, according to the Division of Management Services.–News Service of Florida.
Convicted in Trooper’s Murder, Paul Howell Will Be Put to Death on Feb. 26
January 19–Gov. Rick Scott on Friday rescheduled the execution of Paul Howell for Feb. 26. Howell was convicted in 1994 in the 1992 murder of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper Jimmy Fulford in 1992 when a bomb Howell manufactured exploded in the trooper’s hands after a traffic stop.
Howell’s execution was originally scheduled for last Feb. 26 on a death warrant Scott signed in January. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted him a temporary stay of execution so he could have his final federal review.
According to the Florida Commission on Capital Cases, Howell made a bomb in January 1992 in a plan to murder Tammie Bailey at her Marianna, Fla., home. Howell, Bailey and Howell’s brother, Patrick, were involved in a drug ring that transported drugs from Ft. Lauderdale for sale in Marianna. Since Bailey could link Howell and his brother to a prior murder, Howell intended to eliminate Bailey as a witness. After constructing the bomb, Howell placed it in a microwave oven and wrapped it so that it looked like a present. Howell commissioned Lester Watson to drive to Bailey’s house and deliver the present. Watson had knowledge that Howell made pipe bombs, but in this case suspected that drugs were in the microwave. Watson drove in a car rented by Howell and was accompanied by Curtis Williams.
FHP Trooper Jimmy Fulford stopped Watson for speeding on I-10 on his way to Marianna. Fulford ran a registration check, but when he asked for Watson’s license, Watson gave him a false name and date of birth due to his lack of a valid driver’s license. When Fulford called into dispatch, they relayed to him that the car had been rented to Howell. Dispatch contacted Howell who, when asked if the rental car was stolen, relayed that he had loaned the vehicle to Watson, but claimed he was unaware that he would traveling so far from his home in Ft. Lauderdale. Dispatch told Howell that Watson would be taken to the Jefferson County Jail.
Howell never told dispatch dispatch that there was a bomb in the car.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department deputies Harrell and Blount arrived at the scene and were granted permission by Watson to search the car. The deputies and Fulford noticed the gift-wrapped package in the trunk. Watson was arrested for driving without a valid license and speeding. The deputies took him and Williams to the jail. Fulford was left alone with the car. Shortly thereafter, there was a massive explosion. Fulford was instantly killed.
Howell was arrested and charged with the murder of Fulford. The trial venue was changed from Jefferson to Escambia County. He was found guilty by a trial jury on Oct. 18, 1994, and a jury recommended death by a 10-2 vote on Oct. 21.
Lester Watson, the driver of the vehicle, was convicted of Second-Degree Murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. The defendant’s brother, Patrick Howell, is serving a life sentence without eligibility of parole for 25 years for his involvement in the murder.