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Court refuses to block execution of Jamaican man

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 8:32 AM    

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CMC) – The Florida Supreme Court has refused to block the February 26 execution of a Jamaican drug trafficker convicted for killing a state trooper with a pipe bomb.

The justices have unanimously denied a post-conviction appeal and request for a stay of execution from Paul Augustus Howell, 47.

Howell was convicted of killing Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford in February 1992.

Prosecutors said Fulford had stopped a car carrying the bomb, hidden inside a gift-wrapped microwave oven, on the highway, Interstate 10 east, in Tallahassee, Florida.

Authorities said the bomb was being delivered to two women in Marianna, a Florida city, with the intent of killing them because they knew too much about a South Florida drug ring. The bomb exploded when Fulford opened the package, authorities said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed the death warrant for Howell’s execution by lethal injection, but his attorneys are seeking a stay of execution and pursuing state and federal appeals.

Howell is scheduled to die at Florida State Prison in Starke.

Two lawyers hired to represent Howell, Sonya Rudenstine of Gainesville and Michael Ufferman of Tallahassee, said they are seeking the stay of execution.

If Howell is executed, he would be the first person to be sentenced to death in the modern era in Florida without federal review.

Howell was convicted on charges of first-degree murder and making a destructive device in 1994 by jurors in Pensacola, Florida.

Howell’s brother, Patrick Howell, who also was charged in Fulford’s death, entered into a plea deal, agreeing to a life sentence and testifying against his brother.

Prosecutors said Lester Watson, the man hired to deliver the pipe bomb, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years.

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