A week after Governor Ron DeSantis scheduled his execution, Florida death-sentenced prisoner James Barnes (pictured) discharged his lawyers and waived his appeals.  His execution will now proceed on August 3, 2023.  Since February 23, 2023, Florida has executed four prisoners. Mr. Barnes will be the fifth prisoner executed by Florida this year and the tenth volunteer executed

In 2007, Mr. Barnes was sentenced to death for the murder and rape of Patsy Miller. He was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole when he confessed to the murder after converting to Islam. At his trial, he waived his right to counsel, to a jury, represented himself, pled guilty, and waived all mitigation evidence at sentencing. 

Mr. Barnes has a long history of mental illness and mental health crisises. During his childhood, his sister said he endured severe physical and mental abuse at the hands of their father. Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP) has sent letters to Governor DeSantis urging him to overturn Mr. Barnes’ death sentence. A judge found Mr. Barnes competent for execution; however, a medical professional did not complete a mental evaluation of Mr. Barnes. FADP commented that the lack of a mental evaluation “underscores our need to double down on our efforts to stop executions and to pass legislation, called the SMI Bill, that would make people with serious mental illness not eligible for the death penalty.”

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops has also sent numerous letters urging the governor to abolish the death penalty. In their letter, the bishops stated, “Capital punishment is indeed a false answer that does not solve the problem for which it is invoked and introduces new elements of destruction. We pray for the victims of heinous crimes and for the protection of the indelible dignity of every human being.”


Jean Gonzalez, Death row pris­on­er waives appeals, exe­cu­tion to hap­pen Aug. 3, The Florida Catholic Media, July 132023

Read John Blume’s Law Review: Killing the Willing: Volunteers,’ Suicide and Competency, 103 Michigan Law Review 9 (2005).