Florida set to execute inmate for 1992 slaying of stepdaughter; also convicted in wife's death

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In this undated arrest photo made available by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows inmate Chadwick Banks. Banks from Gadsden County, Fla., is scheduled to be executed Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, for the 1992 murder of his 10-year-old stepdaughter. He also killed his sleeping wife on the same day. (AP Photo/FDLE)


STARKE, Florida — Florida was scheduled to execute a 43-year-old inmate on Thursday evening for the September 1992 murder of his stepdaughter.

Chadwick Banks was set to receive a lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his last-minute appeal without comment.

Banks was convicted in 1994 after pleading no contest to two counts of first-degree murder for the slayings of his wife, Cassandra Banks, and his 10-year-old stepdaughter, Melody Cooper. He was also convicted of sexual battery of a child for raping Cooper before shooting her.

Banks, who was 21 at the time of the killings, received a life sentence for his wife's murder, and a jury recommended death for the stepdaughter's slaying.

The scheduled execution would be the eighth in Florida this year and the 20th since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. That's one fewer than under Gov. Jeb Bush during both of his terms. Bush presided over the most executions since capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1979, but Scott was just re-elected to a second term.

Banks ordered a last meal of fried fish, French fries, hush puppies, banana pudding and ice cream, said Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Corrections. Fourteen family members came to visit him, and he spent time with a spiritual adviser.

On the night of the killings, Banks was drinking at a pool hall in Quincy, Florida, about 20 miles outside of Tallahassee. Banks' wife left the bar without him, and he left about an hour later and went to their home, where he found her asleep. According to authorities, Banks shot her while she slept, then went into his stepdaughter's room where he told police he molested her for about 20 minutes before shooting her in the head.

Florida uses a three-drug mixture to execute prisoners: midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride. The drugs are administered intravenously and are intended to first induce unconsciousness, then paralysis and finally cardiac arrest.

Midazolam, a sedative used commonly in surgeries, has been part of the three-drug mixture since 2013. Sodium thiopental was used before that, but its U.S. manufacturer stopped making it and Europe banned its manufacturers from exporting it for executions.

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AP Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this story.

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