Florida carried out its first execution in more than 18 months Thursday evening, using a lethal injection drug that has never been used before in the United States.
Mark Asay, 53, was executed at 6:22 p.m. using the drug etomidate, a sedative that is meant to prevent Asay from feeling any pain once the lethal dosage of an acid is administered.
In last-minute court filings, doctors hired by Asay’s legal team cautioned that the drug can be both short-lasting and painful when injected. A minute after the first drug, a paralytic, was administered, Asay opened his mouth and his foot jerked, the Associated Press reported. He was motionless afterwards, and was soon pronounced dead. The execution, which reportedly began at 6:10, took less than 12 minutes to complete.
“The execution took place without incident,” Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson Ashley Cook told VICE News.
“The Florida Department of Corrections follows the law and carries out the sentence of the court, as laid out in Florida statute,” Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson Ashley Cook added in an emailed statement. “This is the Department’s most solemn duty and the foremost objective with the lethal injection procedure is a humane and dignified process.”
Asay’s execution is also notable for another reason — it was the first time a white person has been put to death for killing a black person since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Asay was convicted in 1988 for murdering two people, a 34-year-old black man named Robert Lee Booker and a 26-year-old Hispanic man named Robert McDowell, in Jacksonville, Florida.
Asay was “calm and in good spirits” earlier in the day, Cook said. His final meal included fried pork chops, fried ham, French fries, vanilla swirl ice cream and a can of Coke. He declined the chance to make a final statement, saying, “No sir, I do not. Thank you.”