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Florida executes Juan Carlos Chavez

Chavez admitted to abducting Jimmy Ryce, 9, at gunpoint when the boy got off a school bus in rural Miami-Dade county on Sept. 11, 1995.

By Gabrielle Levy
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Florida executes Juan Carlos Chavez
Juan Carlos Chavez was executed for the murder of Jimmy Ryce, 9. (Mugshot/provided)

RAIFORD, Fla., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- A Florida man who was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 9-year-old boy was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday night.

Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, was injected with a three-drug cocktail shortly after 8 p.m. at Florida State Prison, and he was declared dead at 8:17 p.m. Chavez was executed after a tense two-hour delay, during which the U.S. Supreme Court considered, then denied an appeal to stay the execution.

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Chavez admitted to abducting Jimmy Ryce, 9, at gunpoint when the boy got off a school bus in rural Miami-Dade county on Sept. 11, 1995. At trial, testimony showed Chavez raped Ryce, then shot him in the back when he tried to escape, dismembering his body and hiding it in concrete-sealed planters.

A massive search for Ryce failed to locate the boy, but three months later, Chavez's landlady found a backpack that had belonged to Ryce and the murder weapon. Chavez later confessed, and led police to where he had buried Ryce's remains.

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He was charged and found guilty of murder, sexual battery and kidnapping.

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Chavez made no statement in the death chamber, instead making a handwritten statement in which he did not apologize to the Ryce family.

He had no visitors, other than a spiritual advisor, and seemed calm ahead of the execution.

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Jimmy's father, Don Ryce, was present for Chavez's execution, as was Jimmy's brother, Ted. Don Ryce and his wife had said they were determined to turn the horror of their son's death into something positive, and successfully crusaded for the Jimmy Ryce act -- a law that allows sexual predators still found to be highly dangerous to be detained indefinitely unless that can prove they have been rehabilitated.

They also founded the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a group that works to increase awareness about sexual predators, provide counseling to victims and their parents and help train law enforcement to respond to missing children cases.

"People will not forget, they will not forgive," Ryce, 70, said. "We will hunt you down and we will put you to death."

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Chavez's handwritten note

[Tampa Bay Times] [Local 10]

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