UNITED STATES NEWS

Florida man convicted of killing two women over 25 years ago set to die by injection

Oct 2, 2023, 9:12 PM | Updated: Oct 3, 2023, 11:36 am

STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A man is scheduled to die by injection more than 25 years after he killed two women he met in north Florida bars during a dayslong spate of crimes.

Michael Zack III was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the murder of Ravonne Smith, a bar employee he befriended and later beat and stabbed with an oyster knife in June 1996. He also was convicted and separately sentenced to life in prison for murdering Laura Rosillo, whom he met at a bar in a nearby county.

Zack’s nine-day crime run began in Tallahassee, where he was a regular at a bar. When Zack’s girlfriend called and said he was being evicted, the bartender offered to loan him her pickup truck. Zack left with it and never returned, according to court records.

Zack drove to a bar in Niceville in the Florida Panhandle, where he befriended a construction company owner. The man learned Zack was living in the pickup truck and offered to let him stay at his home. Zack later stole two guns and $42. He pawned the guns, according to court records.

At yet another bar, he met Rosillo and invited her to the beach to do drugs. He then beat her, dragged her partially clothed into the dunes, strangled her and kicked sand over her face, according to court records. The next day he went to a Pensacola bar, where he met Smith. The two went to the beach to smoke marijuana and later she took him to the home she shared with her boyfriend.

At the home, Zack smashed her over the head with a bottle, slammed her head into the floor, raped her and stabbed her four times in the center of the chest with the oyster knife, court records show. He then stole the woman’s television, VCR and purse and tried to pawn the electronics. The pawn shop suspected the items were stolen and Zack fled and hid in an empty house for two days before he was arrested, according to court records.

Zack, now 54, admitted killing Smith. He became enraged and beat her when she made a comment about his mother’s murder, which his sister committed, Zack said. He said he thought Smith was going to another room to get a gun when he stabbed her in self defense.

Zack’s lawyers sought to stop the execution, arguing that he is a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Zack’s appeal for a stay of execution Monday afternoon without comment.

Zack’s execution would be the eighth under Gov. Ron DeSantis dating back to 2019 and the sixth this year after no executions were carried out between 2020 and 2022. DeSantis has made tougher, more far-reaching death penalty laws an issue in his presidential campaign.

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Florida man convicted of killing two women over 25 years ago set to die by injection