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Tuesday, August 24, 1999
Thomas Harrison Provenzano v. State of Florida

No. 95,959 & 95,973

Place of Origin: Orange County

On June 9 Governor Bush signed a death warrant for the July 7 execution of Provenzano. In response, Provenzano's attorneys argued that their client was incompetent to be executed due to mental illness. A hearing was held on the issue, and the trial judge rejected the claim. Provenzano appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Before the appeal could be heard, the State executed Allen Lee Davis. Provenzano's attorneys alleged that the Davis execution was the latest of several botched executions, in part because the electrical current allegedly deviated from a protocol the State agreed to use, which the Florida Supreme Court had ordered the Department of Corrections to follow. They also contend that photographs of Davis taken immediately after his execution and other evidence show he suffered pain sufficient to render the electric chair a "cruel and/or unusual punishment" under the Constitution. The State argued that the electric chair functions properly, causing instantaneous unconsciousness and thus no conscious pain. A separate hearing was held on these claims, and the trial judge found in favor of the State. Provenzano also appealed this order. The Supreme Court stayed Provenzano's execution until 7:00 a.m. Sept. 14 and consolidated both appeals for arguments Aug. 24.