Florida executes man for woman's 1980 murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2012 9:08 PM
Florida executes man for woman's 1980 murder

By Michael Peltier

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida executed a 65-year-old man on Wednesday who had spent more than three decades on death row for the murder of a woman he met at a bar.

Robert Waterhouse was put to death by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, the fourth inmate executed in the United States this year. He was pronounced dead at 8:22 p.m. local time, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff.

He was sentenced to die for the January 1980 murder of Deborah Kammerer, a 29-year-old St. Petersburg woman who encountered Waterhouse at a bar in the Tampa Bay area.

Kammerer's body was discovered the following morning in the low-tide mud flats of Tampa Bay. An autopsy found that she had been raped, beaten and drowned.

Police arrested Waterhouse, a plasterer and drywall installer, a week after Kammerer's body was found. Investigators found blood samples, hair and other fibers that placed her in his car, records show.

At the time of Kammerer's killing, Waterhouse was on parole for the 1966 rape and murder of a 77-year-old woman in New York.

Waterhouse was convicted and sentenced to death in September 1980. His original death sentence was thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court in 1988 after his appellate attorney argued the trial counsel erred by not presenting jurors with critical mitigating information, court records show. A second jury reaffirmed the death sentence in 1990.

His last-minute appeals were denied on Wednesday.

Waterhouse's final meal consisted of two pork chops, two eggs cooked sunnyside up, two slices of toast, one slice of cherry pie, one pint of butter pecan ice cream, one pint of orange juice and a pint of milk.

He spent three hours with his wife, Fran Waterhouse, in the morning, Rackleff said.

Robert Waterhouse was the 72nd inmate put to death in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out federal and state death penalty statutes in 1972, prompting states to revamp their laws and procedures. Florida resumed executions in 1979.

His was the fourth execution in the United States so far this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. There were 43 executions in the country in 2011.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)