The state of Florida did something on Thursday it hasn’t done since reinstating the death penalty in 1976: Execute a white man for killing a black man.
By contrast, at least 18 black men have been executed for killing white men in the last four decades, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Mark Asay was executed by lethal injection for two racially-motivated, premeditated murders carried out on the same day in 1987.
A jury convicted him in 1988.
One of the murders involved 34-year-old Robert Lee Booker, who Asay shot after shouting racial slurs at him, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The other victim, 26-year-old Roger McDowell, was white and Hispanic, and presenting himself as a woman at the time of his death.
Prosecutors said Asay had hired McDowell for oral sex and then shot him six times after discovering his gender.
They also noted he had white supremacist tattoos on his his body, according to the Miami Herald.
Court documents said that Asay later told a friend that McDowell had previously cheated him out of money in a drug deal, according to WJAX TV.
The fact that Asay is the first white person to be executed in Florida for killing a black person in 40 years isn’t going unnoticed by critics of capital punishment.
Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference NAACP and an opponent of capital punishment, told the Miami Herald that Asay’s case shows how black inmates are punished disproportionately.
“It does make the case even stronger that there’s this disparity gap that exists between black and white ― who gets the death penalty and who gets exonerated,” she said.
The Asay execution marked a couple of other Florida firsts.
It was the state’s first execution in more than 18 months since the Supreme Court ruled the state’s sentencing process was unconstitutional because it gave judges, not juries, too much power in deciding whether to execute an inmate, according to CNN.
The state has since passed a law requiring a unanimous jury recommendation for the death penalty.
Asay was killed via a lethal injection of three drugs, one of which, etomidate, has never been used in an execution, according to WJAX.
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