Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Supreme Court sets deadlines for Diaz appeals

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court ordered that appeals for death row inmate Angel Diaz be expedited Wednesday, a day after Gov. Jeb Bush signed a second death warrant for the convicted killer.

Diaz, who fatally shot a Miami topless club manager during a 1979 robbery, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Dec. 13.

His lawyer, Suzanne Myers Keffer, said he already had a Circuit Court appeal pending in Miami before Bush signed the death warrant Tuesday.

The Supreme Court set a Nov. 22 deadline for resolving that case. Any appeal to the Supreme Court must be filed by Nov. 27.

Diaz is challenging Florida's lethal injection procedure on grounds that it is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. That argument also had been raised by three other death row inmates who were executed in the past two months.

"There is a lot of new information that has not been considered by the Florida Supreme Court," Keffer said.

She is seeking an evidentiary hearing so that information can be presented. The courts refused in the other cases, ruling there is nothing new to warrant such a hearing.

Diaz was convicted of a separate murder in his native Puerto Rico and escaped from prisons there and in Connecticut before being sentenced to death in Florida.

Then-Gov. Bob Martinez signed his first death warrant in 1989, but the Florida Supreme Court granted a stay. He has since appealed to other state and federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court last year refused to take his case.

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