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Fla. Executes 1 Killer, Clears Way for 2nd

From Associated Press

A man who killed an 11-year-old girl and two fellow death row inmates was executed by injection Wednesday as the way was cleared for a female serial killer to be put to death. She also was declared mentally competent to abandon appeals.

Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco, 43, was declared mentally competent Tuesday after an examination by three state-appointed psychiatrists. The decision on the competency of serial killer Aileen Wuornos came Wednesday, and her execution will take place next week as planned, Gov. Jeb Bush said.

Sanchez-Velasco, who came to Miami from Cuba in the 1980 Mariel boatlift, had confessed to the girl’s murder but denied it in a statement he gave to a priest Tuesday night.

“I did not commit the crime for which I will die. It does not matter who believes me and who won’t believe me,” he wrote. “I cannot call myself totally innocent because I have committed all kinds of sins, including murder. I am receiving my punishment and I am proud to receive my punishment for those lives I have taken.”

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Bush lifted a stay of execution Tuesday for Sanchez-Velasco. The same day he issued a stay for Wuornos.

Wuornos’ attorney had argued that she was not mentally competent to drop her appeals. But three psychiatrists who interviewed her Tuesday reported to Bush that she understood she would die and why she was being executed.

Her lawyer, Raag Singhal, said Wednesday he has concerns about her competence, adding that he wished the medical evaluation had been “a whole movie and not just a snapshot.”

Death penalty opponents said allowing the inmates to drop appeals is equivalent to state-assisted suicide.

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Sanchez-Velasco was sentenced to death in 1988 for the slaying of Kathy Ecenarro, the daughter of his live-in girlfriend. He was given two 15-year sentences for killing two fellow death row inmates.

Wuornos, 46, was convicted of fatally shooting six middle-aged men along the highways of north and central Florida in 1989 and 1990. Her story has been portrayed in two movies, three books and an opera.

She is scheduled to die Oct. 9.


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