A man convicted of a 1989 double slaying in Florida for which he was dubbed the “Ninja Killer” is set to be executed a Florida State Prison.

Louis Bernard Gaskin’s attorney, Eric Pinkard has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that jurors did not hear evidence about his client’s mental illness before recommending that he receive a death sentence. That came after the Florida Supreme Court last week rejected Gaskin’s appeal and request for a stay.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Gaskin’s death warrant in March. If his execution goes ahead, he will be the second inmate executed in Florida this year and the fourth since DeSantis took office in 2019.

Gaskin, now 56, was dubbed the “Ninja Killer” because he wore all-black clothing when he shot and killed Robert Sturmfels, 56, and Georgette Sturmfels, 55, on December 20, 1989, at their home in Flagler County during a burglary. Later that night, he fired at another couple inside their home, hitting Joseph Rector in the chest. Rector survived the shooting.

He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing the Sturmfels. He was also convicted of attempted murder, armed robbery and burglary.

According to court records, items that Gaskin stole from the Sturmfels were found at his home and had been intended to be Christmas gifts for his girlfriend. Gaskin reportedly confessed to the crimes and told a psychologist before his trial that he knew what he was doing.

“The guilt was always there,” Gaskin told the psychologist. “The devil had more of a hold than God did. I knew that I was wrong. I wasn’t insane.”

Jurors had voted 8-4 to recommend a death sentence for Gaskin in 1990, which was accepted by the judge.

Florida has required a unanimous jury vote for capital punishment since 2017, but the State Legislature could eliminate that requirement this year—a move DeSantis supports.

Rector said he supports Gaskin being executed. “I think he should die for what he did,” he told Daytona Beach news station WESH late last month.

But his now ex-wife, Noreen Rector told the Daytona Beach News-Journal last week that she is against Gaskin being put to death.

“I would be satisfied if Louis remained in prison, without the possibility of release. I don’t believe the death penalty serves any purpose,” she said. “What will really bother me is if this might, in some way, advance Florida Governor DeSantis in his presidential quest. I find him and his views highly offensive and divisive.”

Gaskin’s case represents “all of the things that are wrong with the death penalty,” Maria DeLiberato, the executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and an assistant public defender, told Newsweek, “because you have a Black man convicted by an all-white jury, by a non-unanimous jury, and for killing white victims, and he’s seriously mentally ill.”

She added: “Regardless of how you feel about the death penalty in general, we all know that it’s disproportionately applied to people of color, especially with respect to [the] color of the victims and we know that it’s disproportionately applied to the mentally ill.

“Executing the mentally ill doesn’t make us safer,” DeLiberato said. “It doesn’t help any sort of healing. It takes away any of the purported purposes of the death penalty and it’s really just shameful. He was sentenced by a non-unanimous jury. In no other state in the country, would his execution be legal.”

The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst, DeLiberato said. “Louis Gaskin is mentally ill, and he has been in prison for more than three decades without incident. So we don’t need to execute him to keep the state of Florida safe.”

Donald Dillbeck, who was executed in February, used his final words to attack DeSantis.

“I know I hurt people when I was young,” he said. “I really messed up. But I know Ron DeSantis has done a lot worse.”

Original Article