Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rolling Prepares to Die

Gainesville student killer eats last meal and is moved to cell next to death chamber

Jim Leusner
Orlando Sentinel
October 25, 2006, 5:00 PM EDT
STARKE -- Barring any unexpected last-minute, high-court intervention, Danny Harold Rolling, the admitted Gainesville student killer, will be strapped to a gurney at 6 p.m. today and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.

His death would comes 16 years after the five murders set off a week of panic and fear in the college town.His final attempt to stop his death was before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The appeal claims that the chemicals used in the execution procedure cause severe pain, but the high court has declined to intervene in two other Florida executions where the condemned used similar

Corrections Department spokesman Robby Cunningham said Rolling, 52, was calm and cooperative ahead of the execution.

Before being moved to a cell next to the death chamber at Florida State Prison, Rolling visited with his brother Kevin, and his brother's pastor Jim Wallingworth, Cunningham said.Rolling ate his last meal of lobster tail, butterfly shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecake and sweet tea shortly before noon. "He enjoyed his last meal. He ate every bite," Cunningham said.

The victims' families ran an advertisement Thursday in The Gainesville Sun, thanking the community for its support: "We hope you will remember August 1990 and the years that followed without any sense of community shame for what has happened here. You turned a blemish into a rose."

Crowds were expected outside the prison, with possibly the largest turnout since Ted Bundy's execution.

He was suspected in the deaths and disappearances of 36 women across the country. He was electrocuted Jan. 24, 1989, in the same death chamber where Rolling will die by lethal injection.

In Gainesville, the wounds of the town and the victims' families will live on."I don't think it – Gainesville -- will ever be exactly the same," former Alachua State Attorney Rod Smith, who put Rolling on death row in 1994, said recently.

"There will be a special memory of the terror inflicted."The lives of five young college students were violently cut short by Rolling's rage.

Sonja Larson of Deerfield Beach. Christina Powell of Jacksonville. Christa Hoyt of Archer. Tracy Paules of Miami. Manuel Taboada of Carol City.

After the largest and costliest manhunt in Florida history, Rolling -- a man previously considered a common criminal -- would be exposed as one of the nation's most notorious serial killers.Rolling would be the 63rd inmate to be put to death since Florida resumed executions in 1979 and the third this year.

He would be the 259th since 1924, when the state took over the duty from individual counties.--

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report

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