Ángel Nieves Díaz

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Ángel Nieves Díaz
Ángel Nieves Díaz.jpg
Mugshot of Díaz
Born (1951-08-31)August 31, 1951
Puerto Rico
Died December 13, 2006(2006-12-13) (aged 55)
Florida State Prison, Raiford, Florida, U.S.
Other names Emilio Baez, Papo la Muerte, Sammy Toro
Criminal penalty Death sentence
Criminal status Executed
Conviction(s) First degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery

Ángel Nieves Díaz (August 31, 1951 – December 13, 2006) was a Puerto Rican convict who was executed by lethal injection by the State of Florida.[1] Nieves was convicted for shooting and killing the manager of a strip club in 1979.[2] He maintained his innocence until his death.[3]

Biography[edit]

Youth and early crimes[edit]

Nieves was born in Puerto Rico, and became involved in the world of crime and drugs, going by the nickname Papo la Muerte.

Crime and conviction[edit]

On December 29, 1979, Nieves and two friends, Angel Toro and another yet-unidentified man, robbed the Velvet Swing Lounge, a strip club in Florida. During the robbery, Joseph Nagy, the manager, was shot to death. There were no eyewitnesses because most of the employees and patrons were locked in a public restroom.[4]

In 1983, Nieves' girlfriend at the time told the police that he was involved. In 1986, he was tried and convicted. He claimed, however, that Toro committed the crime. Finally the jury sentenced him to death by an 8-4 vote. Nieves was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, attempted robbery, and felony possession of a firearm.

The testimony of a fellow inmate of Dade County, Ralph Gajus, was also crucial in Nieves' conviction and sentence. In 1984, Gajus testified that Nieves had confessed in his cell that he had shot Nagy. This was despite the fact that Nieves hardly spoke English and Gajus understood no Spanish. Still, his testimony was taken into consideration, and Nieves' eventual conviction was in fact largely dependent on cellmate Gajus' testimony.[5]

Later, one of Nieves' attorneys asked the Supreme Court to consider a sworn declaration of Gajus taken more recently in which he confessed he lied in his initial declaration. Gajus was allegedly angry with Nieves for having been left out of an escape attempt earlier and the police allegedly promised to help Gajus with his case.[6]

Execution[edit]

In 2006, Nieves' last appeal was denied. As the date of the execution came closer, the case was again brought to the public attention. On November 28, 2006, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, asked the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, for clemency in the case. Governor Vilà voiced concerns about (a) the fairness of the trial, as Nieves, who spoke almost no English and whose competency was in question, represented himself at trial, (b) the recanted testimony of the key prosecution witness, a jailhouse snitch who later said he lied at trial, and (c) the disproportionate sentence, as the other robber only got a jail sentence.[7]

On December 13, 2006, Nieves was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford. He did not order a last meal, but was served a prison menu of shredded turkey with taco seasoning, shredded cheese, rice, pinto beans, tortilla shells, apple crisp, and iced tea. He also refused this meal. His final statement was: "The state of Florida is killing an innocent person. The state of Florida is committing a crime, because I am innocent. The death penalty is not only a form of vengeance, but also a cowardly act by humans. I'm sorry for what is happening to me and my family who have been put through this."[8] A great amount of controversy surrounded the execution because, contrary to the usual practices, Nieves needed an additional dose of drugs to be executed. The whole process took approximately an hour as opposed to the usual 7.5 minutes. The family declared the procedure a botched execution.[9]

Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, said that Nieves Díaz did not feel any pain and that a liver condition was the cause of the delay, but the family then denied that Nieves Díaz suffered any such condition.[10] A further investigation concluded that there was negligence in the placement of the needles in Nieves Díaz's arms, whereby the needle would have penetrated entirely through the vein, denying the drugs direct entry into the bloodstream and thereby preventing the drugs from directly reaching desired target sites such as the brain and diaphragm.[11] Rather, the drugs were injected into soft tissue after the needle entered and immediately exited the vein, thereby greatly lengthening the time before death.[12] As a result of this, then governor Jeb Bush postponed all pending executions until further notice.[13] However, on July 18, 2007, the new governor, Charlie Crist, lifted the ban by signing a death warrant, authorizing the execution of Mark Dean Schwab.[14]

In 2014 The New Republic published photographs of the botched execution, showing discoloration on the prisoner's arms.[15]

See also[edit]

Botched executions:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Angel Nieves Diaz: Executed December 13, 2006 06:36 p.m. EST by Lethal Injection in Florida. Office of Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  2. ^ "California, Florida Suspend Executions". Associated Press. 2006-12-16. Archived from the original on 16 December 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006. 
  3. ^ Angel Nieves Diaz: Executed December 13, 2006 06:36 p.m. EST by Lethal Injection in Florida. Office of Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  4. ^ Angel Nieves Diaz: Executed December 13, 2006 06:36 p.m. EST by Lethal Injection in Florida. Office of Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  5. ^ Angel Nieves Diaz: Executed December 13, 2006 06:36 p.m. EST by Lethal Injection in Florida. Office of Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  6. ^ Puertorriqueño condenado a muerte pide clemencia en Florida. Phoenix Arizona News. 11/28/2006. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  7. ^ Press Release from Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP). Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Angel Nieves Diaz". The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 14 November 2007. 
  9. ^ Angel Nieves Diaz: Executed December 13, 2006 06:36 p.m. EST by Lethal Injection in Florida. Office of Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Lethal injection of Latino tortuous, not instantaneous". Vivirlatino. 2006-12-15. Retrieved 16 December 2006. 
  11. ^ "Blunder forces Fla. to suspend executions after faulty injection". The News-Press. 2006-12-16. Retrieved 16 December 2006. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions". The Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Shawl, Jeannie (15 December 2006). "Florida governor suspends all executions after botched lethal injection". Jurist - Legal News & Research. Archived from the original on 9 December 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007. 
  14. ^ Price, Caitlin (18 July 2007). "Florida governor lifts temporary ban on executions". Jurist - Legal News & Research. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2007. 
  15. ^ Crair, Ben. "Photos from a Botched Lethal Injection." The New Republic. May 29, 2014. Retrieved on March 10, 2016.

External links[edit]