Stay of execution granted in controversial death penalty case

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TALLAHASSEE - Florida's execution process is once again under scrutiny. A Death Row inmate is scheduled to die Tuesday, but the case hasn't been reviewed by a federal court under a habeas corpus appeal.

"Last year the state of Florida sentenced more people to death than any other state in the union," says Attorney Adam Tebrugge.

If things go according to schedule, Tuesday another execution could be added to the list.  But the lethal injection scheduled for Paul Howell is unlike any the state has ever seen.  "He'll be the first prisoner in Florida to be executed without federal review," says Tebrugge.

Tebrugge is a practicing trial attorney who also teaches about capital punishment.  He says it isn't the historical precedent that has people from all over the county turning their attention to this case, but the unusual circumstances that surround it. 

"His attorney lost all his paperwork in a flood, so they ended up missing a very important federal deadline.  Because they missed the deadline, Mr. Howell's case has never been reviewed by the federal courts, and that's very usual," said Tebrugge.

It's so unusual that it's never happened before.  Tebrugge says while other states are making attempts to abolish the death penalty, Florida seems to be moving in the other direction.

"There is a bill in the legislature right now that is trying to impose even further deadlines on cases.  But, when you impose these arbitrary deadlines, lawyers might miss them or mistakes can be made and you end up in a situation like what Mr. Howell is facing."

ABC 7 has learned that a temporary stay of execution has been granted in Howells case.  But those stays can last for several hours or weeks. However long it lasts you can count on us to keep you posted on this landmark case.