STARKE (CBSMiami/AP) – A former Sweetwater police officer who murdered nine people in a 1986 rampage over three months has been executed by the state of Florida.
Manuel Pardo, 65, was pronounced dead at 7:47 ET, about 16 minutes after the injection process had begun.
The lethal injection moved forward after a federal judge refused a stay.
Pardo ate a last meal of rice, red beans, roasted pork, plantains, avocado, tomatoes and olive oil. For dessert, he ate pumpkin pie and drank egg nog and Cuban Coffee. Under Department of Corrections rules, the meal’s ingredients have to cost $40 or less, be available locally and made in the prison kitchen.
Officials say most of Pardo’s victims were involved with drugs. Pardo contended that he was doing the world a favor by killing them in 1986.
“I am a soldier, I accomplished my mission and I humbly ask you to give me the glory of ending my life and not send me to spend the rest of my days in state prison,” Pardo told jurors at his 1988 trial.
Prison officials said his final words were, “Airborne forever. I love you, Michi baby,” referring to his daughter.
Pardo also wrote a final statement that was distributed to the media, in which he claimed that he never killed any women, but “accepted full responsibility for killing six men.
“I never harmed those 3 women or any female. I took the blame as I knew I was doomed and it made no difference to me, at this time, having 6 or 9 death sentences,” he wrote on Dec. 11, hours before his execution. “I don’t want this hanging over my head, especially these last few minutes of life, because my war was against men who were trafficing (sic) in narcotics and no one else!”
Pardo’s attorneys tried to block his execution by arguing in federal appeals that he is mentally ill, something his trial attorney believed more than two decades ago.
Pardo was dubbed the “Death Row Romeo” after he corresponded with dozens of women and persuaded many to send him money.
Regino Musa, the brother of one of Pardo’s victims, said it’s difficult to grasp that the execution will finally happen. He and his elderly mother plan to attend.
“It’s about time. It’s been so long, you just want to get it over with,” said Musa, whose sister, Sara Musa, was killed by Pardo. “I still have nightmares and I don’t have words to describe it. I can’t believe that it’s happening.”
Pardo, a former Boy Scout and Navy veteran, began his law enforcement career in the 1970s with the Florida Highway Patrol, graduating at the top of his class at the academy. But he was fired from that agency in 1979 for falsifying traffic tickets. He was soon hired by the police department in Sweetwater.
In 1981, Pardo was one of four Sweetwater officers charged with brutality, but the cases were dismissed.
He was fired four years later after he flew to the Bahamas to testify at the trial of a Sweetwater colleague who was accused of drug smuggling. Pardo lied, telling the court they were international undercover agents.
Then over a 92-day period in early 1986, Pardo committed a series of robberies, killing six men and three women. He took photos of the victims and recounted some details in his diary, which was found along with newspaper clippings about the murders. Pardo was linked to the killings after using credit cards stolen from the victims.
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