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Florida executes Darryl Barwick for fatal stabbing of Rebecca Wendt


PENSACOLA, Fla. — Convicted murderer Darryl Barwick was executed Wednesday night at Florida State Prison in Raiford, for breaking into a woman’s home and stabbing her to death in 1986.

“It’s time to apologize to the victim’s family, to my family. I can’t explain why I did what I did,” Barwick, 56, said, who was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m. The execution team began administering the lethal cocktail of three drugs which include a sedative, paralytic, and a drug to stop his heart, at 6:02 p.m.

Barwick was 19 years old in 1986 when he saw 24-year-old Rebecca Wendt sunbathing by the pool of her apartment complex in Panama City, Florida, and followed her home. After watching her, he went back to his house nearby to grab a knife and gloves and broke into her apartment, stabbing her 37 times.

Barwick confessed, telling officers he only meant to rob Wendt and stabbed her after she resisted. But the medical examiner’s office found semen on the comforter wrapped around Wendt’s body.

“This is a case where there has never been a doubt about the defendant’s guilt,” 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Larry Basford said in a statement after the execution. “Not one, but two juries found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and recommended that he be sentenced to death. “

Basford added: “Unfortunately, it took 37 years from the time of the crime for that punishment to be carried out in this case. We appreciate the tireless efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and Governor DeSantis’ office to obtain justice for the victim and her family.”

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After a three-and-a-half-year hiatus brought on by COVID-19, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed death warrants for three death row inmates in less than three months.

On Feb. 23, Donald Dillbeck, 59, was executed for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann outside a Tallahassee, Florida. mall. On April 12, Louis Bernard Gaskin, 56, was executed for murdering a couple in Palm Coast, Florida, in 1989. 

Dillbeck was the first prisoner executed in Florida since 2019 and the 100th prisoner executed since the death penalty was reinstated in Florida in 1975, according to the Department of Corrections.

Barwick has been on death row for 36 years – 12 years longer than Wendt lived. DeSantis signed his death warrant on April 4.

Barwick was initially sentenced to death in 1987, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. He was convicted again in 1992 and was sentenced to death after a unanimous jury recommendation, according to a document from Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office that was filed Monday at the Supreme Court.

State and federal courts have rejected a series of appeals by Barwick.

The number of prisoners on death row across the United States continues to decline while the average amount of time they have been on death row approaches 19 years, according to a report from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute petition by Barwick’s attorneys on Wednesday.

Barwick’s attorneys contended in the U.S. Supreme Court filings that Barwick’s due-process rights were violated because of a “standardless” clemency process. They wrote that the state has not granted clemency to any people sentenced to death in 40 years.

“Due process requires that Mr. Barwick be provided a proceeding where the standards are clear and include considerations beyond the condemned’s guilt,” one of the filings said. “Clemency is a critical stage of the death penalty scheme. It is the only stage at which factors like remorse, rehabilitation, racial and geographic influences, and other factors that the legal system does not correct can be considered.”

Barwick’s attorneys also pointed to Barwick having a “neurodevelopmental disorder” that affected his psychological development and that he suffered abuse as a child. He had a clemency interview in 2021.

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