James Phillip Barnes to Face Lethal Injection for 1988 Hammer Killing – Accepts Punishment, Execution Proceeds as Planned

Florida Inmate James Phillip Barnes is set to face a lethal injection at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Florida State Prison in Starke for the 1988 brutal murder of nurse Patricia “Patsy” Miller.

Florida to Administer Lethal Injection to Convicted Killer Barnes

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Barnes, 61, had been serving a life sentence with lethal injection for the 1997 strangulation of his wife when he confessed to the killing of Miller in letters written to a state prosecutor in 2005. The lethal injection execution is expected to proceed as scheduled after Barnes dropped all legal appeals, expressing his desire to accept his punishment. The nurse’s killing occurred on April 20, 1988, when Barnes broke into Miller’s home in a condominium along Florida’s east coast. In a chilling courtroom confession, Barnes admitted to raping Miller twice, attempting to strangle her, and ultimately killing her with a hammer before setting her bed on fire. DNA evidence also linked Barnes to the crime scene. He was sentenced to lethal injection on December 13, 2007, after pleading guilty to Miller’s murder, sexual battery, arson, and burglary with an assault and battery.

Barnes Accepts Lethal Injection, Declines Mitigating Appeals

mate James Phillip Barnes Chooses Lethal Injection Over Appeals for 1988 Nurse Murder (PHOTO: Larry Farr)

Barnes’ case garnered attention due to his unconventional decision to forego appeals and accept responsibility for his actions, a rare occurrence in death penalty cases. Despite mental competency evaluations revealing symptoms of a personality disorder, he was deemed competent to understand the legal situation and plead guilty. The Florida Supreme Court recently accepted the ruling to proceed with the execution after no other motions seeking a stay of execution were filed in state or federal court. As the scheduled lethal injection draws near, Barnes’ religious conversion to Islam and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops’ request for a stay of execution and commutation of his lethal injection sentence have added complexities to the moral and ethical debate surrounding the death penalty. Nonetheless, unless any last-minute legal interventions occur, Barnes is expected to receive a lethal injection, making him the fifth person put to death in Florida this year.

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