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    Killer nearer his goal of death

    A circuit judge says he is leaning toward finding Newton Slawson mentally competent, so he can waive his appeals and get on with his execution.

    By Times staff writer

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


    TAMPA -- For the past few years, convicted murderer Newton Slawson has wanted nothing more than to die.

    On Thursday, he came one step closer to his goal.

    Circuit Judge Rex Barbas, while stopping short of a final ruling, said he was leaning toward finding find Slawson mentally competent, a decision that would allow Slawson to represent himself and fast-track his appeals. Slawson will have to return to Barbas' court at least one more time to testify.

    Slawson, 45, was arrested in 1989 after murdering an entire east Tampa family. Peggy and Gerald Wood, casual acquaintances of Slawson, were shot in their apartment, along with their son, Glendon, 3, and their daughter, Jennifer, 4.

    Mrs. Wood, who was 81/2 months pregnant with another son, also was stabbed and her stomach was sliced open, but she crawled next door to tell her mother "Newt did it" before she died.

    Since his conviction for first-degree murder, Slawson has said several times in court that he wants to waive his appeals and get on with the execution. Although local judges have granted his requests to represent himself and waive his appeals, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Slawson must undergo psychiatric evaluations and that the evaluators must testify in court.

    Last month, two doctors testified that Slawson was legally competent to represent himself. A third testified that he thought Slawson was incompetent.

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