STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A former police officer who murdered nine people during a 1986 crime spree was executed Tuesday after his attorneys' last-minute appeals were rejected.
Manuel Pardo, 56, was pronounced dead at Florida State Prison at 7:47 p.m., about 16 minutes after the lethal injection process began. His attorneys had tried to block the execution by arguing that he was mentally ill, but federal courts declined to intercede.
Reporters could not hear his final statement because of an apparent malfunction in the death chamber's sound system. A white sheet had been pulled up to his chin and IV lines ran into his left arm. He blinked several times, his eyes moved back and forth and he took several deep breaths. Over the next several minutes the color drained from his face before he was pronounced dead.
Prison officials said his final words were, "Airborne forever. I love you, Michi baby," referring to his daughter.
Pardo also wrote a final statement that was distributed to the media, in which he claimed that he never killed any women, but "accepted full responsibility for killing six men.
"I never harmed those 3 women or any female. I took the blame as I knew I was doomed and it made no difference to me, at this time, having 6 or 9 death sentences," he wrote on Dec. 11, hours before his execution. "I don't want this hanging over my head, especially these last few minutes of life, because my war was against men who were trafficing (sic) in narcotics and no one else!"
Officials said most of Pardo's victims were involved with drugs. Pardo contended that he was doing the world a favor by killing them over three-month period in early 1986.
"I am a soldier, I accomplished my mission and I humbly ask you to give me the glory of ending my life and not send me to spend the rest of my days in state prison," Pardo told jurors at his 1988 trial.
Frank Judd, the nephew of victim Fara Quintero read a statement following the execution, which was witnessed by fewer than 10 family members of the victims.
Judd thanked the state of Florida for bringing closure to his family and said the pain he and his relatives feel about the murder of Quintero "continues to this day."
"Personally, I don't feel that what happened today was enough justice," he said, adding that Pardo was a "disturbed soul."
Pardo's final letter apologized to his family for the "pain and grief" he caused.
"You all are so loving and wonderful, not deserving of this nightmare," he wrote. He asked his family to please not suffer and to "be strong." He mentioned his daughter Michi in the written statement.
"Remember Michi you are Airborne and hardcore...No tears!" he wrote.
Pardo also touched on his love of sports, devoting one of three paragraphs in his letter to baseball, soccer and bullfighting.
"On a lighter note, as a New Yorker and loyal fan, I was happy to see my Yankees and Giants win so many championships during my lifetime," Pardo wrote.
He said it was a lifelong dream to see Spain win the World Cup and urged the Spanish government to never stop bullfights because they are "a part of our culture and heritage." Continued...