STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a South Florida woman 26 years ago during an apartment burglary was set to be executed Thursday evening.
Fifty-five-year-old Jose Antonio Jimenez was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the Florida State Prison for the October 1992 killing of Phyllis Minas in her North Miami apartment. But execution plans were at least temporarily delayed as authorities awaited a final ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on a stay request.
According to trial transcripts, Minas' neighbors said they heard the 63-year-old woman screaming inside her second-floor apartment and tried to enter, but someone inside had locked the door. The building's custodian said he saw Jimenez jump from the woman's second-floor balcony. And prosecutors said a fingerprint on the inside of the apartment's front door matched Jimenez's print.
The man's defense maintains he didn't kill the woman, saying all evidence against him was circumstantial and that investigators had lied to pin the crime on him. But at the conclusion of a weeklong trial, Jimenez was found guilty and later sentenced to death.
Authorities say Jimenez was a cocaine addict who was burglarizing Minas' apartment when she came home and surprised him. Investigators said Minas, a longtime employee of the Miami-Dade Court Clerk's office, was stabbed eight times.
Jimenez also was convicted of a prior burglary and second-degree murder in the 1990 death of another woman in Miami Beach.
Over the years, the inmate has filed various appeals. In an appeal filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this week, Jimenez and his attorneys said detectives who investigated the case gave "false or, at best, misleading testimony," and that several key police reports were lost.
Additionally, his attorneys asked the court to stay the execution and consider whether Florida's lethal injection protocol constitutes cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The lawyers point to the February execution of Eric Branch using the same drugs in which experts later concluded he felt significant pain, including screaming out the word "murderers!" several times as he thrashed about on the gurney.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the death warrant for Jimenez last summer and scheduled the execution for August. The Supreme Court stayed that, but lifted the stay in October.
According to corrections officials, Jimenez would be the 28th inmate executed in Florida since Scott took office in 2011 if the procedure is carried out Thursday evening. That would be more than any other Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.