Despite all of the racial tension happening in America these days — history is still being made, slowly but surely.
For the first time in Florida’s modern history, a White person will be executed for killing a Black person. The Miami Herald reports that 53-year-old Mark James Asay is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Florida State Prison on Thursday night for the racially motivated killing of Robert Lee Booker, who was Black, and Robert “Renee” McDowell, who was Hispanic, in Jacksonville 30 years ago.
In the 41 years since Florida reinstated the death penalty, 18 Black men have been executed for killing white victims. Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida NAACP, told reporters, “It does make the case [against the death penalty] even stronger that there’s this disparity gap that exists between Black and White — who gets the death penalty and who gets exonerated.”
Mark James, a former White Supremacist, will also be the first person put to death with a drug called “etomidate”, leading some critics to accuse the state of using him as a guinea pig. Jen Moreno, a lethal injection expert at the University of California, told reporters, “There are outstanding questions about whether it’s going to do what it needs to do during an execution. The state hasn’t provided any information about why it has selected this drug.”
Asay, a prison gang member who used to sport a Swastika tattoo, was sentenced in 1988 for the murders of Booker and McDowell, after he claims he found them dressed in women’s clothes after agreeing to pay for sex. Witnesses added that Asay was searching for prostitutes when he found McDowell and shot him six times. However, Asay said he did not intend to kill McDowell, whom he described as a friend, and that he’d committed the murder in a drunken “meltdown.”
Mark James Asay is set to die on Thursday night by lethal injection.