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24th Feb 2018

Death row rapist turns to the State Governor and makes chilling claim before being executed

James Dawson

Eric Scott Branch was convicted of raping and killing Susan Morris, a 21-year-old University of West Florida student, in 1993.

A death row inmate shouted “murderers! murderers! murderers!” as he was put to death at Florida State Prison, before then turning to Governor Rick Scott and telling him that he should be the one to carry out the penalty.

“I’ve learned that you’re good people and this is not what you should be doing,” Branch added.

Branch’s crime saw him leave his victim’s naked body in a shallow grave after he attacked her so he could steal her red Toyota 24 years ago. “She had been beaten, stomped, sexually assaulted and strangled. She bore numerous bruises and lacerations, both eyes were swollen shut,” the justices wrote when his sentence was passed.

The death warrant was signed by Governor Scott in January of this year, after a failed appeal by Branch, in which he claimed the jury’s 10-2 vote to sentence him to death at his trial over two decades ago, did not reflect the state’s current laws requiring a unanimous decision.

He was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m on Thursday.

A statement issued by the victim’s family, read: “Twenty-five years ago, Susan’s life was suddenly and brutally extinguished. We have grieved for her longer that she was with us. Yet because of who she was … she will never be forgotten by those who love her.”