Death penalty opponents call on DeSantis to stop execution

Death penalty opponents call on DeSantis to stop execution

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Death penalty opponents are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to stop the execution of serial killer on death row.

Bobby Joe Long is scheduled to be executed Thursday at Florida State Prison for the 1984 murder of Michelle Simms in Hillsborough County.

In 1985, Long pleaded guilty to seven additional first-degree murder charges and numerous charges for sexual batteries and kidnappings in the Tampa Bay Area.

Long’s attorney has filed appeals to try to block the execution, a process that likely will continue leading up to Thursday.

If given a lethal injection, he would be the first death row inmate executed since Gov. DeSantis took office in January.

Death penalty opponents want DeSantis to stop the execution, saying capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime.

“Once you cross a threshold, it can be tough to go back from," Michael Sheedy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We believe that he does recognize the really serious nature of this. We are hopeful, again, that he will stay this execution.”

28 inmates were executed under the watch of former governor, Rick Scott during his eight years in office, the most of any Florida governor since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

There are currently 338 men, and three women on death row in Florida.

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