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Protestors, Bishops call for end to death penalty

10:46 PM, May 29, 2013   |    comments
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STARKE, Fla. -- A man convicted of raping and strangling a young girl was executed while people protested his execution. 

Carrying signs of protest and saying quiet prayers, two dozen people voiced their opposition to the death penalty in Duval and Bradford Counties.

Several Florida bishops also spoke out against the death penalty.

Both events coincided with Wednesday's lethal execution of 56-year-old Elmer Carroll.

In November of 1990, Carroll was indicted on one count of first-degree murder and sexual battery for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan in Apopka.

"Some have experienced repentance and sorrow and we believe rehabilitation is possible in prison," said Bishop Felipe Estevez, the Dioceses of St. Augustine.

Approximately one week before Carroll's execution, Bishop Estevez, sent Governor Rick Scott a letter asking Carroll's life be spared and changed to a life sentence.

In the letter Estevez stated, "Killing people to show that killing is wrong is a piercing contradiction, and one that touches our very souls."

Several of the Bradford County protesters agreed with Estevez and reminded Floridians of the death sentences that have been overturned in the past.

"Florida has exonerated 24 innocent people off of death row," said protester Mark Elliott. "Whether it was DNA testing or evidence being allowed or witnesses things happen and mistakes are made." 

According to, Florida has more exonerated death row inmates than any other state. 

First Coast News

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