Thomas Harrison Provenzano

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Thomas Harrison Provenzano
Thomas Provenzano.jpg
mug shot of Provenzano
Born (1949-06-06)June 6, 1949
United States
Died June 21, 2000(2000-06-21) (aged 51)
Starke, Florida, United States
Occupation Former electrician
Criminal penalty Death sentence
Criminal status Executed
Conviction(s) Murder, attempted murder

Thomas Harrison Provenzano (June 6, 1949 – June 21, 2000) was a convicted murderer executed by means of lethal injection by the state of Florida. Provenzano believed he was Jesus Christ and also compared his execution with Christ's crucifixion.

Provenzano was an unemployed electrician when on January 10, 1984 he entered Orange County Courthouse in Orlando carrying a shotgun, an assault rifle, and a revolver along with a large quantity of ammunition and opened fire with the revolver when two bailiffs approached to search him.[1] Provenzano had been charged with disorderly conduct five months earlier and had gone to the Court House with the intention of shooting the officer who had charged him.[2] He killed 60-year-old Deputy Sheriff William Arnie Wilkerson, a retired Navy Lt. Commander who had served 14 years with the Sheriff's Department. 53-year-old Deputy Sheriff Harry Dalton was wounded and suffered brain damage becoming partially paralyzed eventually dying from his injuries 7 years later in 1991.[3] 19 year old Correctional Officer Mark Parker was hit in the spine and paralyzed from the neck down after being caught in the crossfire as he used his own body to shield a civilian from the gunfire.[4] Parker eventually died in March 2009 due to complications from his injuries. Provenzano would be found guilty and sentenced to death for the attack.[5]

In 1999, the state of Florida heard a petition from Provenzano that argued that the electric chair was a cruel and unusual punishment. During the proceedings, Michael Minerva, who had witnessed Jerry White's execution, said that "White's body stiffened and was thrust upward and backward to the back of the electric chair" after the current had been switched on to the chair. He also said that he heard air moving through White's lips and throat, though he could not tell whether the air was going in or out. But even after the execution by electric chair of Allen Lee Davis had caused many irregularities, the constitutionality of the electric chair remained upheld. However, by the time the inmate following Davis was to be executed, Florida inmates sentenced to death could choose between lethal injection and the electric chair. Everyone executed in Florida following Davis thus far (as of April 2013) has chosen lethal injection.

Provenzano was originally scheduled to be the second person executed in Florida's newly built electric chair on Wednesday July 14, 1999, but the execution was stayed following the gruesome death of Allen Lee Davis (supra) just six days before the scheduled July 14, 1999 execution date on Thursday, July 8, 1999. Provenzano’s eventual execution was carried out using a lethal injection protocol subsequently adopted by the Florida state legislature.[6]

Provenzano had spent almost 16 years on death row before being executed at Florida State Prison in Starke on June 21, 2000. He was the 48th murderer executed in Florida since that state's reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976.

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