TIME ON DEATH ROW: Florida to Execute Inmate After Three Decades on Death Row

On February 15, Florida is scheduled to execute Robert Waterhouse, a 65-year-old inmate who was sentenced to death for a 1980 murder in St. Petersburg. Waterhouse has been on Florida’s death row for over three decades, longer than any inmate previously executed by the state. His original death sentence was overturned in 1988 after his appellate attorney argued that Waterhouse’s trial lawyer erred by not presenting the court with important mitigating information. A second jury reaffirmed his death sentence in 1990. Last week, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a petition to spare Waterhouse because of testimony from a newly discovered witness and the destruction of evidence that made it impossible to perform DNA testing that might exonerate him. Inmates spend an average of 10-20 years on death row between sentencing and execution. If the lethal injection proceeds, Waterhouse will be the 72nd person executed in Florida since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1972. It will be the 4th U.S. execution in 2012.

(M. Stacy, “Florida poised to execute killer after 31 years on death row,” Orlando Sentinel, February 15, 2012). See Time on Death Row.