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'I don't want to watch my brother's execution' - Family of Jamaican slated for death penalty in Florida next Tuesday keeps hope

Published:Sunday | February 24, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Paul Augustus Howell - Contributed Photo

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

The brother of a Jamaican man scheduled to be executed in the American state of Florida on Tuesday has said he is devastated and will not be watching the execution.

"No, I don't plan to watch," Peter Howell told The Sunday Gleaner, late last week as last-ditch efforts continued to save his brother's life.

Peter said while he will be in Florida with other family members on Tuesday, he could not say if they plan to watch.

Peter's brother, Paul Augustus Howell, is set to die by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison on Tuesday for the 1992 killing of Highway Patrol Trooper Jimmy Fulford.

One of his attorneys has revealed that he has already been measured by prison personnel who are seeking to ensure they have the "right straps to strap him down" for the execution.

Paul Howell, who is from Nine Miles in Spauldings, Clarendon, was born on June 25, 1965.

According to Peter, his brother, who is facing execution, had a Christian upbringing as part of a Pentecostal Church household before he migrated to the United States as a 12-year-old.

Prosecutors in the Fulford case say Paul Howell made a bomb in January 1992 "for the specific purpose" of killing a Tammie Bailey at her home in Marianna, Florida.

Paul had already been convicted on drug charges and sentenced to life in prison.

According to the case file, Bailey, Paul and another Howell brother, Patrick, were involved in a drug ring that transported drugs from Fort Lauderdale to be sold in Marianna.

The prosecution said, because Bailey could link both Howell brothers to a prior murder, they wanted to eliminate her as a witness.

First-degree murder

They reportedly constructed a pipe bomb, placed it in a microwave oven that was gift-wrapped, and commissioned a man named Lester Watson to deliver it to Bailey's home in a motor car Howell rented.

Watson was stopped by Fulford for speeding and further checks revealed that he did not have a valid driver's licence.

He was transported to jail and Fulford began opening the package when the bomb went off, killing him instantly.

Prosecutors say Paul, who admitted to cops he loaned the car to Watson, was immediately arrested and charged with first-degree murder and making, possessing, placing or discharging a destructive device.

He was found guilty on two counts and a jury recommended the death penalty by a 10-2 vote.

Watson was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison while Patrick Howell is serving a life sentence without eligibility of parole for 25 years, for his role in the killing.

In January, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Howell's execution warrant, but attorneys hired by Peter Howell have set in motion a series of last-ditch attempts to stall the execution.

Peter Howell and one of the attorneys, Michael Ufferman, avoided questions about Paul's guilt, saying the focus now is on stopping the execution.

"We have gone over the entire situation and it's really about a tragic situation that was unintentional," Peter told The Sunday Gleaner last Friday.

He said Fulford's death has been "devastating" for both families.

"Words cannot describe how this ordeal is affecting the families ... both ourselves and the Fulford family," he added.

Ufferman said Paul Howell has a history of mental illness, which led to his discharge from the US military after four years of service.

The lawyer has also charged that Paul's trial attorney had a conflict of interest in the case.

"Unfortunately, this significant conflict issue has never been considered in federal court, because Mr Howell's appointed post-conviction attorney missed the deadline to file a federal habeas corpus motion in federal court," said Ufferman.

"We are asking the federal court to stay Mr Howell's execution so that the court can now consider this important issue," he added.