The child molester who confessed to the May 2000 killing of another inmate made no secret of his desire to die.
By CARRIE JOHNSON
Published May 27, 2004
STARKE - Even before he tied the bedsheet around the other inmate's neck, John Blackwelder wanted to die.
On Wednesday, at 6:13 p.m., the convicted child molester got his wish.
"I'm glad I get to go home," Blackwelder said, just moments before a deadly mix of chemicals was injected into his veins. "I'm proud to be a Christian and I thank you Jesus for saving me and allowing me to come home. Amen."
Blackwelder, 49, formerly of Fort Pierce, was the 59th inmate executed at Florida State Prison since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. He was also the second Florida inmate to be put to death this year.
Blackwelder was serving a life sentence for child molestation when he killed murderer Raymond Wigley at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City in May 2000.
Blackwelder told jurors he enticed Wigley into his cell with the promise of a sexual act. Then he tied Wigley to his bed and strangled him as Wigley struggled and begged for mercy.
Wigley, convicted of the rape, torture and murder of Adella Maria Simmons in 1983, was found by prison guards with a bedsheet around his neck, bleeding from the head.
Blackwelder said he deliberately committed the crime because he couldn't accept life in prison.
After his death sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court last year, Blackwelder waived his appeals and made no secret of his desire to die.
"I will be glad tomorrow to lie on the gurney," Blackwelder said during a media interview earlier this week.
Abe Bonowitz, one of about 10 protesters outside the prison during the execution, compared Blackwelder's execution to "suicide by cop," in which a person commits an act that forces the police to kill him.
"The message sent here is that if you don't like life in prison, all you must do is murder a prison worker or another inmate and the state will give you an assisted suicide," said Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
Blackwelder was scheduled to die Tuesday, the 25th anniversary of the execution of John Spenkelink, the first Florida inmate and the second in the country to be executed after the reinstatement of the death penalty.
But less than an hour before the scheduled execution, Gov. Jeb Bush postponed it for 24 hours to give the Florida Department of Law Enforcement time to investigate a last-minute claim by another inmate that someone else had confessed to Wigley's murder.
On Wednesday, Bush said he was satisfied the accusation was false. He said the FDLE's investigation involved DNA testing to confirm Blackwelder was responsible for the murder.
Blackwelder ate his final meal of pizza, salad and Coke on Tuesday. He was not granted a second final meal and dined on the sloppy joes, french fries and corn served to the rest of the prison inmates at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Blackwelder spent his last morning chatting with prison guards. About noon, he requested the services of a volunteer chaplain, who stayed with him until 4:30 p.m. He declined a sedative.
Blackwelder received his life sentence in 1998 after he was convicted of molesting a 9-year-old St. Lucie County boy. The boy said Blackwelder masturbated in front of him and performed oral sex on him, according to court testimony.
Blackwelder previously served nine years in prison in the 1970s for a sexual battery in Miami.
He was incarcerated again in 1991 for threatening the life of Vice President Dan Quayle.
- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.