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Victim Watches Florida Killer Die

June 22, 2000

STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ Sixteen years after a bullet fired by Thomas Provenzano left him paralyzed, Mark Parker watched the convicted killer die for killing a bailiff in a shootout in an Orlando courtroom.

``He looked scared, pretty damned scared,″ said Parker, who watched Provenzano’s execution Wednesday from his wheelchair. ``I knew he could tell he wasn’t going to get out of this one. I saw fear in his face.″

Parker, 36, was one of three bailiffs shot in 1984, when Provenzano entered the courtroom concealing three guns in his camouflage coat.

Parker and another bailiff, Harry Dalton, 53, were paralyzed; Dalton died seven years later. Provenzano, 51, was sentenced to death for the murder of William ``Arnie″ Wilkerson, 60.

A trial judge concluded in December that Provenzano believed he faced execution because he is Jesus. But the judge ruled that the execution should proceed because Provenzano also knew he had killed Wilkerson.

Under Florida law, condemned killers can be executed even if they are mentally ill, unless they don’t understand they are about to be executed and why.

Provenzano was scheduled to die Tuesday but won a reprieve 11 minutes before he was to be executed, as he lay on a gurney with intravenous tubes in both arms. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which gave no reason for granting the stay, lifted it Wednesday morning, and Gov. Jeb Bush rescheduled the execution immediately.

In Virginia, a death row inmate won a reprieve Wednesday night from the U.S. Supreme Court about 75 minutes before he was scheduled to die by injection for the murders of a woman and her 5-year-old daughter in 1993.

The high court granted the stay pending an appeal by lawyers for Russel Burket, 32.

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