Manuel Valle, the man convicted of killing a Coral Gables police officer was executed yesterday at Florida State Prison in Raiford; according to an announcement received by Historic City News this morning.
This was the first death warrant signed by Gov. Rick Scott since taking office.
Despite last minute wrangling by his attorneys, Valle is the 70th person to be executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated. Valle’s execution was initially set for 4:00 p.m., however, there was another court delay.
For his last meal, Department of Corrections Spokesperson Gretl Plessinger said Valle requested Fried chicken, white rice, peach cobbler and Coca-Cola.
At around 6:30 p.m., the six media representatives were brought into the witness room of the execution chamber and seated behind Officer Pena’s family. The window curtain rose, revealing Valle, restrained to a gurney.
The 61 year-old looked up at the witnesses, but remained silent, declining a final statement. At 6:58 p.m., the executioner began the process. Valle blinked for several minutes, yawned and closed his eyes one last time before going to sleep. Sixteen minutes later, at 7:14 p.m., he was pronounced dead.
On April 2, 1978, Valle shot and killed Officer Louis Pena from a stolen vehicle after Valle was stopped by Pena for running a red light in Coral Gables.
Valle was sentenced to the death penalty; however, he dodged execution for three decades due to appeals and case delays — prolonging the emotional pain inflicted on Pena’s family.
For Pena’s family, September 28th marks the end of a nightmare. “It’s a roller coaster,” Pena’s daughter Jeneane Skeen said.
Valle was the first person to be administered a new lethal injection drug. It was the center of one of his delays, because Valle claimed it might cause him pain.
“Who cares if he’s going to have to suffer,” Pena’s former wife Inez Afanador said. “He caused Louis Pena to drown in his own blood and Louis Pena’s family has been suffering for 33 years. Now its Valle’s turn to suffer. An eye for an eye.”
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by Coral Gables Police Department