By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - A man who confessed to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, the Florida Department of Corrections said.
Eddie Wayne Davis, 45, was sentenced to death in 1995 after he admitted to taking the girl from her mother’s home, sexually assaulting and strangling her.
His death follows a string of executions in the U.S. South last month, including those of two other men in Florida and Georgia, in the wake of a botched Oklahoma execution in April that sparked an uproar among death penalty opponents.
Davis confessed three times to the murder of Kimberly Waters, who was found strangled in a dumpster in 1994. He was 25 years old at the time of her killing, but his defense team claimed that he was mentally still a juvenile.
Prison authorities said Davis was calm as he awaited his fate. He met with his mother and a Catholic spiritual adviser during the day before eating his last meal, and issued no final statement.
Davis is the seventh person executed in Florida this year, matching the total number of executions in 2013. The state has not seen more executions in a single year since 1984, when eight prisoners were put to death, according to the Department of Corrections.
The Florida Supreme Court on Monday rejected Davis' claim that a metabolic blood disorder known as porphyria might cause him to have a painful reaction to midazolam, the first of three drugs used by the state in executing convicted killers.
Another convicted murderer in Georgia had his death sentence, also due to be carried out on Thursday, commuted to life imprisonment on Wednesday by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Tommy Lee Waldrip, 68, was convicted of the 1991 shooting death of a man who had been scheduled to testify against his son in an armed robbery trial.
It was the fifth death sentence commuted by the Georgia Parole Board since 2002 and the first since April 2012.
(Reporting by Bill Cotterell in Tallahassee, Fla. and David Beasley in Atlanta; Writing by Letitia Stein and David Adams; Editing by Eric Walsh)