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On eve of execution, murderer feels 'glad'

John Blackwelder tells the media he killed another inmate just so he could get the death penalty, and Gov. Jeb Bush "will get another kill."

By Associated Press
Published May 25, 2004

STARKE - John Blackwelder, who is scheduled to die today for a prison killing, apologized Monday for the murder but said it was the only way to manipulate the state to get the death penalty.

"I will be glad tomorrow to lay on the gurney and tomorrow you (Gov. Jeb Bush) will get another kill," Blackwelder, 49, formerly of Fort Pierce, said in a media interview.

Blackwelder pleaded guilty to murdering convicted killer Raymond Wigley, 39, of Fort Worth, Texas, who was strangled on May 6, 2000, at Columbia Correctional Institution. After luring Wigley into his cell with the promise of a sex act, he tied Wigley to the bed and strangled him as Wigley begged for mercy.

"I am sorry for killing Wigley, but to get what I wanted I had to," Blackwelder said.

Wigley was convicted of the rape, torture and murder of Adella Maria Simmons, 47, in 1983.

Blackwelder noted that he will die on the 25th anniversary of the execution of John Spenkelink, the first Florida inmate and the second in the country to be executed after the Supreme Court made states redo their death penalty laws.

Blackwelder said Wigley was the only person he ever killed and claimed he was innocent of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy in St. Lucie County, the crime that put him in prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Blackwelder said he was fearful that his execution would be put off until fall so it could be used politically by Gov. Bush and President Bush.

"I did not want my execution to become a political statement for any Bush," Blackwelder said.

Gov. Bush did not directly comment on Blackwelder's statements.

"People have to remember what actually happened here," Bush said. "This was a man who was on death row because he murdered somebody."

"I am sorry for what I've done; now I have to pay the price," said Blackwelder, who admitted threatening Vice President Dan Quayle "because I was homeless."

Blackwelder is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. today at Florida State Prison.

He will be the fifth Florida inmate executed by injection, the second this year. He will be the 59th inmate executed since Florida resumed executions on May 25, 1979, when Spenkelink was put to death for slaying a traveling companion in Tallahassee.

Psychologists claim Blackwelder has been diagnosed as having impulse control disorder, antisocial personality disorder and pedophilia.

The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Blackwelder's conviction and death sentence in July after an automatic appeal. Blackwelder then filed a motion to waive any more appeals.

Death penalty opponent Abe Bonowitz, with Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said Blackwelder's death wish was "suicide by governor."

Six of the last 10 inmates have opted to drop their appeals to speed up their executions.

Blackwelder said he became a Christian while on death row. "After I die, I feel I will go to heaven," he said.

Throughout the interview his impending death was on his mind.

"It's time to do away with the death penalty," he said at one point.

But he abruptly ended his interview, saying, "I can't kill myself. I'm not suicidal. I can get the state to do it for me."

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 23:42:10]


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