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"They butchered me back there. I was in a lot of pain,"
Demps tells witnesses in the death chamber before executioners released the deadly dose.

Bennie Demps
Florida Botches Lethal Injection
Execution June 7, 2000

 

Minutes before his execution,
Demps said technicians had cut him
in the groin and leg and that he was
"bleeding profusely."
An observer from the State Attorney's Office saw
"a large bore needle mark in the right groin..."
(see below for news articles)




BENNIE DEMPS
June 17, 1950 - June 7, 2000





A Plea For Mercy for Bennie E. Demps by The Florida Catholic Conference
RETRIBUTION DOES NOT JUSTIFY EXECUTION
- The Florida Catholic Conference





My name is Bennie E. Demps,

I am 49, deathrow prisoner and am currently under deathwatch at the Florida State Prison,
having had my 4th death warrant signed by Governor Bush on Monday April 24, 2000.
I was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1976 of killing a fellow prisoner.
Quite simply I am innocent of this crime and have spent the last 22 years accumulating the necessary evidence to prove,
that various Department of Correction prison officials - in conjunction with an unscrupulous
former Prosecutor named Thomas Elwell, did indeed manufacture this case.

The reason being they perceived me as having "escaped" the death penalty when in June 1972
the US Supreme Court struck down the death penalty commuting my sentence to life.
It is a fact, the Courts in denying my appeals in this case, have often point to as justification to execute me for this case.
Blending the lines of a prior conviction to carry out what the Court stopped before.
By basically saying to me that the State did not get a chance to execute me then,
so it's 'okay' for them to do so now, regardless of the innocence factor.
I would not have been sentenced to death without that prior conviction as you need only consider the
disparity in sentencing between myself and my two co-defendants who both received life.

I use the word manufactured because I was not involved in this murder but the prison officials upon seeing an opportunity,
manipulated and re-wrote this case to include me. They bought and paid for everything, concealed exculpatory evidence,
 'lost or misplaced' critical files, that had they been discovered by me at the time of trial, would have proven my innocence.
 They made and delivered promises and rewards to all who aided in this conviction, be they prisoners or a guard.
 The proof of such has come in the form of many prisoners coming forward, issuing affidavits admitting their part in
getting that conviction. But because this evidence was discovered so many years after my trial the
Courts have ruled consistently on one issue, the evidence is procedurally and time barred,
claiming you are just to late to present proof of your innocence! We discovered reams of documents about the
'so called star inmate witness' Larry Hathaway that proves beyond all doubt that he was then and continues
 to be today crazy! This is not opinion - we have the DOC medical records to prove it and how they
knew he was on psycothropic medication and they used him anyway, but withheld that fact from us.
In 1998 while going through a Clemency investigation my attorney Bill Salmon received from the State 2000 - 3000
pages of documents and amongst them was a single page document that for the last 21 years had been
concealed and withheld from any of my attorneys - from the time of trial throughout the 22 years of this case.
It is an official Department of Corrections memo written by the Chief Prison Inspector Cecil L. Sewell
 to the then Secretary of the Department of Corrections Louie Wainwright, it was written Sept. 7, 1976
the day after the murder of this prisoner and it clearly states that the victim in his dying declaration
 named a single individual and someone other than Bennie Demps! The fact that this document was
previously concealed and withheld from us during trial and throughout the appellate process and the
fact that it does not name me as the killer, became the basis for my 4th motion for post conviction
relief filed in the Bradford County Circuit Court in July 1999. My attorney then filed a Supplement
to the motion highlighting three affidavits of the representing attorney's involved at trial affirming that
they had never seen the document and all stated they repeatedly sought exculpatory evidence and were
repeatedly told nothing existed. This fact is in the trial record. In October 1999 the Judge felt
there was merit to my motion and ordered the State to respond by January 15, 2000 and to explain why
I was not entitled to the relief I am seeking.
Their response was empty, they provided no explanation for anything, simply a rehash of old responses
put forth by the State in past appeals. My attorney then filed on April 13, 2000 one more Supplement and
with it his own affidavit of how and when he came by the document. We were awaiting the Judge to
rule and hopefully order an evidentiary hearing so that the truth could finally be told.
The Governor of the State of Florida, in spite of this pending appeal based on factual innocence,
in spite of his promises of Clemency being the catch net for innocence" in spite of the fact that the
former Governor Lawton Chiles felt the this case needed more investigation - simply rushed to judgment
prematurely signing my 4th death warrant while I still had an appeal pending. I have since learned that
the Bradford County Circuit Court Judge found merit in my claims and has ordered an evidentiary hearing,
set for Friday May 12, 2000.

In 1981 the Florida Supreme Court said in their denial of my initial appeal that I had no proof that the
State withheld any critical documents, yet suddenly here we are 22 years after the fact while going through
the Clemency proceedings, my attorney unearths 'proof' from the State files!
This document should have been provided to my attorneys at the time of trial and the jury allowed to see it.
Had the jury been allowed to see the document it would surely have been a great influence to them
considering they returned the first time hung in their decision. The State should not be able to
obtain a conviction where it can be clearly demonstrated that it was obtained through withholding
exculpatory evidence and covered up deals made for testimony.
The Court seems to want to excuse the State's behavior in my case by saying over and over to me that the
 issues are procedurally barred. It was incumbent upon the State to provide my attorneys with any and all
information that was exculpatory and yet all these years they have benefited from having it procedurally barred.

There was NO physical evidence of any kind implicating me in this crime

. I have proven that - at the time of trial the Prosecutor withheld critical exculpatory evidence
 and if presented in a Court of law today in it's entirety, would result in a different verdict

. I have proven that - the Prosecutor concealed the fact that deals were made by prison officials
 with numerous prisoners in exchange for their help in manipulating the facts of this case to obtain a conviction

. I have offered as evidence the affidavits and/or depositions of those same prisoners who are came forward
 to admit to their complicity and involvement with the named Department of Correction officials

. I have proven that the 'dying declaration' to officer Rhoden was untrue and that the victim did NOT
 name me as his assailant. And by their own hand and document - this Chief Prison Inspectors Report
- they provide the proof that the Florida Supreme Court said I did not have.
By virtue of the fact that this newly discovered document is in our hands now, for the first time in 22 years
- demonstrates how easily capable the State is of withholding and concealing evidence,
and of manipulating the facts of this case.

Recently the Chicago Tribune did an investigative series of articles on Prosecutors, withholding and hiding evidence.
It is not improbable nor impossible that former Prosecutor Thomas Elwell had done the same to me in this case.
In fact there is more than ample evidence that the State has indeed done such.
What I am seeking is publicity and investigation into my case and I am asking for the Court to not to
turn a blind eye to the allegations I have raised in my appeal. I am entitled to a full and fair hearing
 as I have raised strong claims and evidence of innocence.
I am asking for nothing more than any man who is innocent and can prove it.
Our system of justice is predicated on certain fundamental guarantees, that are designed to protect each of us and to
 prevent the abuse of legal procedures in any judicial proceeding. In a case where a person is faced with the sentence of death,
 these fundamental rights must be in place. I leave you with the question - if there is no statute of limitations
put on charging someone with murder, why then should there be time limit put upon one seeking to prove innocence,
when it can so clearly be documented?

If you wish to discuss this case with me please contact the Florida State Prison 904-368-2500
 for an appointment to interview me as they must provide me media access under deathwatch.

Thank you for your time and please help before it's too late.

Bennie E. Demps
030970 - Q2101  
PO Box 181 
Starke Florida 32091

For information :
Lawyer Bill Salmon, Gainesville Tel: 352-378-6076
Tracy Demps Email: ateeyah@netcom.ca   and TracyDemps@aol.com


FROM THE NEWS:
 
A state attorney discounted accusations that convicted killer Bennie Demps was ``butchered'' by his executioners,
but the next man to die by lethal injection is likely to raise the question -- possibly to the Florida Supreme Court.

Though Florida switched from its controversial, mishap-prone electric chair to lethal injection in January to avoid constitutional
questions about the way it dispenses death to the condemned, new questions arose after Demps launched into a seven-minute rant before he died Wednesday night.
He said corrections officers -- trying to sink a needle into his arm -- caused ``a lot of pain."

"Whatever the method, the Department of Corrections is not qualified to do the job,'' said Michael Reiter, an attorney for courthouse shooter
Thomas Provenzano, scheduled to die by lethal injection June 20.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, though lethal injection has never been ruled
unconstitutional since its debut in the United States in 1982.

Gov. Jeb Bush, visiting Miami to sign a health care bill, remained a staunch backer of the department and said Demps'
execution went "according to protocol."

"When the execution took place, there was no cruel or unusual punishment," Bush said.

And Gainesville State Attorney Rod Smith said his office planned ``no further inquiries'' into Demps' death. Demps' attorney,
George Schaefer, had asked Smith for an investigation, telling Smith that Demps' "complaints of abuse sounded sincere to me."

Condemned to die for the 1976 stabbing death of a fellow inmate, Demps called the execution a ``low-tech lynching by poison."
He complained corrections officers trying to find a suitable vein cut him in the groin and leg, causing him to bleed "profusely" and to require sutures.

"They butchered me back there," Demps said. "This is not an execution, it is murder."

The execution team successfully inserted the first needle in Demps' left arm, a spokesman for the governor's office said,
but had trouble finding a suitable vein in his right arm for the backup line.
The team turned to Demps' groin and leg, but eventually gave up and went with a single line.

Smith said someone from his office watched Thursday morning as Gainesville Medical Examiner William Hamilton viewed Demps' body,
noting a "large-bore  needle mark" in Demps' right groin and a "small incision" inside the right  ankle.
Two puncture wounds were found on his right arm, and there was the mark of the IV in his left arm, Smith said.

"All procedures were conducted under the supervision of the warden of Florida State Prison and the director of health services
 for the Department of Corrections," Smith said. ``Based on the foregoing, this office finds no reason to further
investigate the allegations of Mr. Demps as conveyed by his attorney."

Demps, a Muslim, had requested that no autopsy be performed on his body for religious reasons.

The Department of Corrections' written protocol for executions calls for a 2nd intravenous line
to be used in case the first round of chemicals does not kill the inmate.

Department spokesman C.J. Drake said the decision to go with a single line didn't violate the protocol.

"The warden supervises the process, and it's a judgment call for the warden," Drake said.

The department released a statement by its health services director, saying the execution was carried out ``in a professional manner."

"The inmate suffered no undue discomfort," Dr. David Thomas said.

The protocol, Thomas said, gives the department "professional discretion" to use a "minor surgical procedure" to locate veins.

The procedure, known as a "cutdown," involves cutting the skin and pulling out a vein when one can't be located with a needle.

Critics charge that because medical ethics prevent a doctor or nurse from participating in executions,
the public should be allowed to see the procedure to determine if pain is involved.
The department only opens the curtains to the death chamber after the inmate has been hooked up to the needles and tubing that deliver the chemicals.

"This is exactly one of the things that we had feared," said West Palm Beach Public Defender Steven Malone,
who unsuccessfully argued in February on behalf of his client Terry Melvin Sims that the state was not prepared to conduct a lethal injection.

(source:  Miami Herald)

************

FLORIDA:

The execution of a Florida killer who complained he was "butchered" by his executioners is compelling evidence that the
United States should abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International USA said.

Bennie Demps, 49, was put to death on Wednesday at Florida State Prison near Starke for the fatal stabbing of a fellow prisoner.
In a deathbed diatribe he blasted prison officials for their handling of his execution by lethal injection.

Florida's administration of capital punishment has come under heavy fire in the past and has been the subject of numerous court challenges.
The state switched to lethal injection after several bloody or fiery executions in the state's electric chair.

Demps was the 3rd Florida inmate to die by lethal injection since it was instituted this year.

"This case indicates ... that lethal injection is no less a human rights violation than electrocution," AIUSA executive director
William Schulz said in a statement issued late Thursday. "All execution methods are gruesome and can go awry."

Florida prison officials have defended the execution, which was delayed for more than half an hour while
medical personnel searched for a suitable vein to administer the lethal drugs.

"They butchered me back there. I was in a lot of pain,"
Demps told witnesses in the prison death chamber before executioners released the deadly dose.

His attorney, George Schaefer, said in a letter to local prosecutors that Demps complained the
executioners had cut him in the groin and leg in their search for a vein.

Demps, who was serving a life sentence for a 1971 double shooting murder when he was sentenced to die in 1978 for the murder of Alfred Sturgis,
was not pronounced dead until 6:53 p.m. EDT (2253 GMT). The execution had been scheduled for 6 p.m.

Amnesty International USA called for an independent investigation of the execution, including an autopsy.
Demps, a Moslem, had requested that no autopsy be performed because of his religion and the local state attorneys office said it did not plan an investigation.

State officials said on Thursday the execution was carried out according to protocol and said they did not plan a review.

Florida was roundly criticized for the bloody execution of Allen Lee Davis in July 1999.
Witnesses heard muffled screams from the death chamber and blood flowed from the inmates nose as a lethal jolt of electricity was applied.

In March 1997 flames shot from the head of inmate Pedro Medina,
the 2nd time an electrocution produced fire in the electric chair known as "Old Sparky."

The Medina execution prompted a year-long halt to executions while courts reviewed whether using
the electric chair violated the U.S. constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Although the courts ultimately upheld electrocution, Florida in January made lethal injection its primary
method of execution with electrocution an option at the inmates request.

Amnesty International said 108 nations have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

"At a time when the United States is scrutinizing the administration of the death penalty,
an incident like this highlights Amnesty International's belief that the death penalty is the ultimate human rights violation,"
AIUSA southern region director Ajamu Baraka said.

(source:  Reuters)

******************
 

A trial judge must hear evidence in the appeal of death row inmate John Freeman, condemned for the 1986 murder of a Jacksonville man,
the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a 5-2 unsigned decision, Florida's high court ordered a trial judge to hold a hearing into
Freeman's claims that his attorney was ineffective during his sentencing hearing.

Justice Leander Shaw, Justices Harry Lee Anstead, Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince supported the majority opinion.
Justice Charles Wells and Chief Justice Major Harding dissented.

Freeman is condemned for the murder of Leonard Collier, who caught Freeman burglarizing his home in November 1986.
Freeman said Collier pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him to keep him from escaping. The two struggled and Freeman got a hold of the gun. He hit Collier several times in the head and Collier died from the injuries.

In addition to the death sentence for Collier's murder, Freeman, 37,
is serving life for the October 1986 murder of Alvin Epps.

(source:  Associated Press)
 

*******************

State Attorney Rod Smith said Thursday that his office will not investigate the surgical procedure performed on a
convicted killer minutes before he was put to death Wednesday evening at Florida State Prison near Starke.

Inmate Bennie Demps' attorney, George Schaefer, asked for the investigation Wednesday after the inmate's
desperate plea as he prepared to receive a lethal injection just before 7 p.m.

Minutes before his execution, Demps said technicians had cut him in the groin and leg and that he was "bleeding profusely."

"I was in a lot of pain," he said to the 32 witnesses at Florida State Prison.

But Smith denied the request and said the execution was "carried out as mandated by the governor."

Schaefer could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Smith said an observer from the State Attorney's Office saw "a large bore needle mark in the right groin and a
small incision inside the right ankle" during an external exam of Demps' body Thursday. The observer also reported
2 additional puncture wounds in the right arm. The left arm still showed where a sodium chloride intravenous line had been inserted.

Demps, 49, was put to death after workers had a difficult time finding a sufficient vein on his body for a 2nd IV line.

Department of Corrections spokesman C.J. Drake said the execution followed protocol.

"The fact that it took a little while longer doesn't mean there was anything out of the ordinary," he said.
"We need to do whatever we have to do to locate the primary and secondary veins. Protocol allows us to do it."

Drake said the 2nd vein technicians had trouble locating -- and resorted to a surgical procedure to reach -
- was an alternate and was not used during the execution.

Dr. David Thomas, director of health services at DOC, said protocol in lethal injections was a
"flexible document" giving technicians professional discretion to locate a suitable vein to inject the chemicals.

Doug Wallace, nursing coordinator of Shands at the University of Florida, said when Demps said he'd been cut in the groin,
he was probably referring to a "femoral stick." Wallace called the procedure, where doctors cut into the skin by
incision to find a vein in the groin area, "normal to hospitals and very common" when doctors are unable to find a suitable vein for an IV.

"It's something that's very simple and that we deal with all the time," he said.

The execution, scheduled for 6 p.m., also was delayed while the prison waited for paperwork rejecting a
final appeal from the U.S. Supreme Court, which arrived at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Demps, a Muslim, had asked not to have an invasive autopsy for religious reasons. The Alachua County Medical Examiner's office,
which received Demps' body after the execution, performed an external exam Thursday, in accordance with Demps' request.

Medical Examiner William Hamilton said the cause of death was from injection of lethal toxins.

Medical examiner's officials said toxicology results will be completed in 8 to 10 weeks.

Complaints about the surgical procedure may be used in the death appeals of Thomas Provenzano,
the next man scheduled to die by lethal injection, an appeals attorney said Thursday.

Michael Reiter, an attorney for Provenzano, who is scheduled to die June 20, said Demps'
complaints call into question the ability of the DOC to carry out a constitutional execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court considered the question after Allen Lee ''Tiny'' Davis was executed in July, Reiter said.
Davis' bloody execution and a promised review by the high court on the constitutionality of Florida's use of the electric chair
sparked the Legislature to change the state's method of execution to a choice between lethal injection or electrocution.

"When Davis was executed, it spurred an action before the United States Supreme Court on the DOC's ineffectiveness
 in knowing or being trained on what to do," Reiter said. "Obviously, it has raised its ugly head again."

Demps was executed for the stabbing death of Alfred Sturgis, who was attacked in his cell by 3 inmates in 1976.

Demps was first on death row for the 1971 murders of R.N. Brinkworth and Celia Puhlick,
who Demps fatally shot in a Lake County citrus grove. They were inspecting land when Demps happened upon them with a stolen safe.

One year after Demps was sent to death row, the Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional.
Demps was one of 97 inmates in Florida taken off death row.

In July 1976, Florida's death law was upheld. 
2 months later, on Sept. 6, 1976, Sturgis was stabbed to death at the state prison in Starke.

Demps was sentenced to death.

(source:  Gainesville Sun)



A Plea For Mercy for Bennie E. Demps by The Florida Catholic Conference
RETRIBUTION DOES NOT JUSTIFY EXECUTION
- The Florida Catholic Conference



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