STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ Convicted murderer James William Hamblen, who once said he thought it would be ''spiffy'' to die in Florida's electric chair, was electrocuted this morning.

Hamblen, 61, was pronounced dead at 7:12 a.m. at Florida State Prison for killing a Jacksonville businesswoman, the governor's office said.

During his last minutes, he smiled, winked and stuck his tongue out at witnesses in the death chamber. In his final statement, Hamblen made a play on President Bush's campaign promise not to raise taxes.

''You know that I had trouble with that four-letter L-word, so like George, read my lips,'' Hamblen said to Judith Dougherty, one of his state-funded attorneys. He then mouthed the words, ''I love you.''

Dougherty said afterward that the killer was mentally ill and, ''the system failed Jim Hamblen.''

The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-1 vote late Thursday, upheld a federal appeals court ruling letting the execution proceed. The sole dissenter was Justice Thurgood Marshall, who objects to capital punishment in all cases.

Hamblen became the 140th person nationally and 24th in Florida to be executed since the 1976 Supreme Court ruling letting states resume use of the death penalty.

Hamblen had come within five hours of execution in July 1989 when the Supreme Court issued an indefinite stay. Hamblen then asked that all his appeals be dropped.

In an interview last year, Hamblen said he was depressed that his execution had been halted.

''I can hardly wait to sit in Old Sparky (the electric chair). I'm curious about it,'' Hamblen said. ''I'm not the least bit concerned about electrocution. I think it's spiffy.''

But this year he ordered his lawyers to renew his appeals.

Hamblen was condemned for the April 24, 1984, slaying of Laureen Jean Edwards, the owner of a Jacksonville lingerie shop, the Sensuous Woman, during an attempted robbery.

He said he shot Mrs. Edwards, 34, in the back of the head because she pressed a silent alarm button.

Hamblen also told police of killing a girlfriend, Debbie Abbott, on March 26, 1984, during an argument in Spring, Texas.

Hamblen was sentenced to death after firing his public defender and pleading guilty to killing Mrs. Edwards.

Hamblen had spent 20 years in prison on rape and burglary convictions before his release in 1978.