UNITED STATES NEWS

Execution set for Florida man convicted of killing two women he met at beach bars in 1996

Aug 17, 2023, 4:29 PM | Updated: 4:48 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A man convicted of killing two women he met at beach bars in the Florida Panhandle in 1996 is set to be executed under a death warrant signed Thursday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Michael Duane Zack III’s lethal injection is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. It’s the sixth execution scheduled in Florida this year after a break dating back to 2019.

The scheduled execution of Zack, 54, would be the eighth under DeSantis. Though Florida has been executing death row inmates at a far slower pace than under its previous governors, DeSantis has made tougher, more far-reaching death penalty laws an issue in his presidential campaign.

According to court records, Zack went on a crime spree across the Florida Panhandle in June 1996. He had been living in Tallahassee when he borrowed a bartender’s car and never returned it, authorities said. Zack made his way toward Panama City, where the owner of a local construction business allowed Zack to stay in his house. Investigators said Zack stole two guns and some cash from the man and then went to Niceville, where he pawned the guns.

Zack eventually ended up in Okaloosa Island. Officials said he met Laurie Russillo, whom Zack strangled to death before leaving her body on the beach. Zack then drove to Pensacola Beach, where he met Ravonne Smith. Investigators said Zack sexually assaulted Smith and then fatally stabbed her at her home. Zack stole some electronics from Smith’s home and tried to pawn them in Panama City. He was arrested two days later after breaking into a house.

Zack was convicted of first-degree murder for both deaths. He received a life sentence for Russillo’s murder and the death penalty for Smith’s slaying.

Defense attorneys have argued that Zack suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder, which make Zack impulsive and cause him to be under constant emotional and mental distress.

Earlier this year in Florida, Donald Dillbeck was executed in February, and Louis Bernard Gaskin was executed in April. Darryl B. Barwick was executed in May, followed by Duane Eugene Owen in June. James Phillip Barnes was executed earlier this month.

United States News

Associated Press

Moose kills Alaska man attempting to take photos of her newborn calves

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 70-year-old Alaska man who was attempting to take photos of two newborn moose calves was attacked and killed by their mother, authorities said Monday. The man killed Sunday was identified as Dale Chorman of Homer, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety. The female moose […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

There was a fatal shooting at this year’s ‘Jeep Week’ event on Texas Gulf Coast. Here’s what to know

CRYSTAL BEACH, Texas (AP) — A popular event drew tens of thousands of visitors over the weekend to Texas Gulf Coast beaches, where a fatal shooting erupted and nearly 300 people were arrested, authorities said Monday. Three separate shootings were reported Saturday on the Bolivar Peninsula during the annual “Jeep Week” event, including one that […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Bankruptcy judge approves Genesis Global plan to refund $3 billion to creditors, crypto customers

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A bankruptcy court judge has approved a plan by the cryptocurrency lender Genesis Global to return about $3 billion to its creditors and investors, including thousands of people who New York regulators say were defrauded by the company. The plan and settlement approved Friday by Judge Sean H. Lane includes up […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Billionaire rains cash on UMass graduates to tune of $1,000 each, but says they must give half away

MEREDITH, N.H. (AP) — The clouds weren’t alone in making it rain on the commencement ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth last week. On stage, billionaire philanthropist Rob Hale surprised the graduating class of more than 1,000 by pointing to a nearby truck holding envelopes stuffed with cash. Huddling under ponchos and umbrellas at […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

California county’s farm bureau sues over state monitoring of groundwater

HANFORD, Calif. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed over California’s decision to take over monitoring groundwater use in part of the fertile San Joaquin Valley under a landmark law aimed at protecting the vital resource. The Kings County Farm Bureau and two landowners filed a lawsuit last week over a decision by the State […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge rules Ohio law that keeps cities from banning flavored tobacco is unconstitutional

An Ohio law prohibiting cities from banning the sale of flavored tobacco products is unconstitutional, a judge has ruled. The state is expected to appeal the ruling issued Friday by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Serrott, who had issued a temporary restraining order in April that stopped the law from taking effect. The […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Execution set for Florida man convicted of killing two women he met at beach bars in 1996