Elmer Carroll died by lethal injection Wednesday for the 1990 rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowen. Carroll lost all final appeals and refused to make a final statement before his death.
"Thank you to all that have worked so hard, and justice for all, namely, Christine McGowen. Rest in peace," the victim's mother said after Carroll was pronounced dead.
Christine McGowen was raped and strangled as her stepfather slept in another room and her mother was at work. Carroll lived in a halfway house next door after being released from prison; he had entered the home and abused the child before murdering her. He then took off with the stepfather's truck, which was found a short time later.
Officers found Carroll not long after and found plenty of evidence convicting him of the rape and murder. However, Carroll's lawyers argued that he was too mentally ill to stand trial for his crimes, but a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery.
Carroll had been arrested and imprisoned twice for indecent assault on a child before attacking and murdering Christine. He told a housemate that he like the girl and described her as "cute" and "sweet."
Friends and family still mourn the loss of the innocent 10-year-old girl.
"I still pray for her daily because she is a part of my life because I taught her in one of my first years teaching," Catherine Mohr, one of Christine's teachers, told Bay News. "She was spunky and full of life. [It was] very difficult to go through the days and the motions."
"Justice is served for Christine," prosecutor Robin Wilkinson said. "The death penalty is something that's only for the worst of the worst but this is the type of case that deserves it."
However, the Catholic Diocese of Orlando held a special service at St. James Cathedral to pray for the death penalty to be abolished. One of Carroll's last visitors was Dale Recinella, a Catholic lay chaplain and death-penalty opponent.
"It's a destructive tool rather than a preventive tool," Bishop John Noonan told those gathered at the church.
Carroll was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m.