Starke, FL – William Happ was put to death yesterday for the 1986 rape and murder of Angie Crowley, and was the first Florida inmate executed with their new lethal injection mixture.
William Happ has been on Death Row for 27 years, convicted of the rape and murder of 21-year-old Angie Crowley in 1986. Crowley had recently moved to Florida from Illinois, and was making a 300-mile drive to visit a college friend in Yankeetown.
Crowley was prone to getting lost, so she had meticulously planned her route, and was to meet her friend at a convenience store in Crystal River so she could guide her the last few miles to her home. Crowley made it to the store, but before she could use the pay phone to call her friend, Happ smashed her car window.
Happ kidnapped Crowley and took her to a nearby canal where he gave her 10 to 20 severe blows to the head before raping her. Afterwards, he strangled Crowley to death with her yoga pants and then dumped her body in the canal. A fisherman found her body the next day. Happ was later arrested in California after one of his sneakers was matched to a shoe print found at the scene of Crowley’s murder.
After being convicted and sentenced to death, Crowley waived all of his appeals and told a judge he did not want any lawyers slowing down his date with the needle. So here we are, 27 years later, and Happ is finally ending his sentence. The now 51-year-old met with his spiritual advisers, and had a last meal of chocolate and ice cream.
Speaking to those present before receiving his lethal injection, including Crowley’s surviving siblings, Happ said, “To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime. I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology. I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins. But I understand why those here cannot.”
The lethal injection actually consists of three drugs to ensure an inmate is put down humanely and does not suffer cruel and unusual punishment. The first one renders the inmate unconscious, the second drug paralyzes him, while the third stops the inmate’s heart.
If that first drug doesn’t work right and the inmate is conscious, even just partially, the inmate’s shuffle off this mortal coil will be an extremely painful one when when the remaining two drugs are administered.
While we will never know what Happ experienced yesterday, as he’s dead as dog shit, reports are the execution may not have went as planned. The reason for this is because Happ was basically a guinea pig – the first person to be executed in Florida with a new drug cocktail.
Normally, the first drug issued is pentobarbital, but the supply of that drug is now limited because its manufacturer has stopped sales of the drug for executions. States that employ lethal injections have now been scrambling to find a substitute. In this case, that replacement is midazolam hydrochloride, also known commercially as Versed. Thing is, midazolam has never been used in a lethal injection procedure. Until yesterday, that is. Unfortunately for Happ, he remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than people executed by lethal injection using pentobarbital.
Happ’s execution began at 6:02 p.m. His eyes opened and he blinked several times. Two minutes later, he closed them and opened them again before yawning and his jaw dropping open. At 6:08 p.m., there was no response from Happ, but a minute later, his head began moving back and forth. His breathing stopped shortly after, and he was finally pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.
While this may have bolstered critics’ claims that this new drug should not be used in lethal injections, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections said they have no plans of changing the new mixture, and that they are confident that midazolam would avoid inflicting pain and suffering on an inmate.
I’ve always felt the death penalty should be used as a public safety measure rather than a tool to inflict pain on someone. I have no issues removing people from the planet in a humane fashion, regardless of what crime they’ve committed. Even if I didn’t feel that way from a moral standpoint, the U.S. Constitution assures us that we are not to be subjected to cruel or unusual punishment.
That being said, I’m not ashamed to admit that a part of me hopes Happ was conscious through those 14 minutes he was lying on that table, and that those last minutes of his life were as terrifying and painful as Crowley’s.Tags: Angie Crowley, Crime, death row, execution, Florida, lethal injection, William Happ