Florida death row inmate Michael Zack is set to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday for the 1996 deaths of two people after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the execution on Monday. Photo courtesy Florida Department of Corrections
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Michael Duane Zack is scheduled to become the sixth death row inmate to be executed in Florida on Tuesday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the planned lethal injection.
Zack, 54, is set to die by lethal injection after he was convicted for murder in the death of Ravonne Smith in Escambia County during a deadly crime spree that also claimed the life of Laura Rosillo in Okaloosa County.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Zack's death warrant on Aug. 17 but attorneys for Zack said he should not face the death penalty because he suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or FAS, which caused him to function as if he was "intellectually disabled."
The Florida Supreme Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also passed on stopping the execution as well.
In its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said there was "no real possibility" that it would expand the 2002 precedent set by Atkins vs. Virginia, which established that executing people with intellectual disabilities violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, to include a FAS diagnosis.
"Zack would not succeed in having this court wholesale defer to the views of the psychiatric community on the matter of whether Atkins should be expanded to include other types of diagnoses," the court wrote. "While he asserts that the psychiatric community now views FAS as functionally identical to intellectual disability, courts determine Eighth Amendment law, not unelected unrepresentative experts."
Kennedy worked as a bartender in Pensacola Beach when she was murdered on June 13, 1996, where authorities found her at her home with four stab wounds in the chest. During his arrest, Zack confessed to killing Russillo on the same day.
He met Russillo at a bar in Okaloosa County and her body was found near the beach on Okaloosa Island, beaten and strangled. Investigators found traces of Russillo's blood inside Zack's car, which he had stolen from a friend in Tallahassee.