William Happ, 51, of Florida was executed for the 1986 rape and murder of Angie Crowley. Happ was the first prisoner executed using a new drug, midazolam hydrochloride, which some feared would not work as effectively as the normal combination of lethal drugs.
Happ's execution began at 6:02, and reports state that he "appeared" to remain conscious much longer than those injected with pentobarbital bought abroad. He managed to open and close his eyes several times before falling unconscious, but then his head began to move back and forth. Happ was finally pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.
"This is somewhat of an experiment on a living human being," Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington told Reuters. "The three-drug process depends on the first drug rendering the inmate unconscious and, if only partially unconscious, the inmate could be experiencing extreme pain. Because the second drug paralyzes him, he would be unable to cry out or show that he's in pain."
Before his death, Happ met with two spiritual advisers and then apologized to those in attendance.
"To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime," Happ said. "I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology. I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins, but I understand why those here cannot."
Happ was then put to death, but it brought little comfort or relief to Crowley's surviving relatives who made the trip to witness Happ's execution.
"The apology, for what it's worth, I personally think that's more for himself than anything. He needs to ask someone a lot more important than me for forgiveness," Chris Crowley told the Associated Press. "We have lost a vibrant young lady with dark blue eyes and an infectious smile. With this loss we will no longer experience her great sense of humor, her laughter, and her loving and caring personality. Our loss is also your loss. You have lost the possibility of meeting such a special person."