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USA (Florida): Death penalty

, Index number: AMR 51/015/1998

Daniel Remata, Judi Buenoano (f) and Gerald Stano: Daniel Remata, Judi Buenoano and Gerald Stano are scheduled to be executed on 23, 30 and 31 March 1998 respectively.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/15/98
EXTRA 20/98 Death Penalty 4 March 1998
Gerald STANO
Daniel Remata, Judi Buenoano and Gerald Stano are scheduled to be executed on
23, 30 and 31 March 1998 respectively.
Daniel Remata was convicted and sentenced to death in February 1985 for the fatal
shooting of Mehrle “Chet” Reeder.
Judi Buenoano
Judi Buenoano was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 for the murder of
her husband, James Goodyear. She also received life sentences after a county
jury convicted her of the murder of her son that took place in 1980 and the
attempted killing of her fiancé that took place in 1984.
In a series of appeals in 1990 to state and federal courts, Buenoano’s lawyers
claimed that legal representation at her trial had been inadequate. They argued
that the defence attorney failed to introduce vital mitigating evidence relating
to Buenoano’s childhood, during which she was sexually abused and suffered much
instability as a result of being frequently moved between different relatives’
and welfare homes. Lawyers also claimed that the botched execution of Jesse
Tafero, carried out by the state on 4 May 1990, indicated that execution using
electrocution constituted “torture” and “cruel and unusual punishment” - flames
erupted from behind Tafero’s mask during his execution and he continued to breath
up until the third jolt of electricity was administered.
If her execution goes ahead, she will become the first woman to be executed in
the state of Florida since 1848 and the first woman ever to be executed by the
electric chair in Florida.
Gerald STANO
Gerald Stano was sentenced to death in March 1983 for the murders of Susan Bickrest
and Mary Muldoon. He also received life sentences for murders that occurred
in September 1981 and has confessed to killing over 40 women between 1975 and
The Florida Supreme Court stayed Stano’s execution pending hearings on the
constitutional validity of the electric chair following another botched
execution, involving Pedro Medina, on 25 March 1997; Flames also erupted from
behind his mask during the execution. The Florida Supreme Court ruled the chair
constitutional in a 4-3 vote in October 1997 and the execution was rescheduled
for 31 March 1998.
The state of Florida is about to resume executions after a hiatus of more than
one year caused by concern that the method of execution, electrocution, may be
deemed unconstitutional following the death of Pedro Medina.
The decision of Governor Chiles to postpone executions until the end of March
1998 has given members of Florida legislature time to take up the issue in their
regular March session. It is thought likely that legislation to ensure
continuation of the use of the electric chair as Florida’s method of execution
and to designate lethal injection as an alternative method will pass.
In the highly politicized atmosphere that surrounds the use of the death penalty
in Florida, such legislation has been interpreted as a means to preserve the
use of the death penalty in the state indefinitely. Jim King, leader of the
Republican House stated: “I don’t care if it’s firing squad, public hanging,
lethal injections or whatever, so long as the legislation we pass doesn’t diminish
the carrying out of the death penalty”.
Following Medina’s execution, an electrical engineer hired to investigate the
chair certified that neither Medina in 1997 nor Tafero in 1990 would have felt
any pain during the course of their botched executions. However he has no medical
training. Bob Butterworth, the state’s Attorney General, commented subsequent
to Medina’s execution thatpeople who wish to commit murder, they had better
not do it in the state of Florida because we may have a problem with our electric
chair”. Assistant Attorney General, Richard Martell, stated that, “we do not
hold that [electrocution] must be painless ... the only issue is the present
working condition of the electric chair”. Bills to introduce lethal injection
as an alternative to the chair in Florida failed in 1986, 1988 and 1991.
An Amnesty International report entitled “Lethal Injection: the medical
technology of execution” (ACT 50/01/98, January 1998) cited numerous flawed
executions by lethal injection that were carried out in the USA between 1982
and 1997.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/express/airmail letters in English or your
own language:
- expressing concern and sympathy for the victims of crime, their relatives and
- acknowledging the serious nature of the crimes for which Daniel Remata,
Judi Buenoano and Gerald Stano were convicted but urging Governor Chiles to
commute their death sentences;
- asserting that the death penalty is a violation to the right to life and the
right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, as
proclaimed in the United Declaration of Human Rights.
The Honourable Lawton Chiles
Governor of Florida
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Telephone: + 1 850 488 2272
Faxes: + 1 850 487 0801
Salutation: Dear Governor
and to diplomatic representatives of USA accredited to your country.

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