Convicted murderer Darryl Barwick is poised to become the third inmate executed in the state of Florida in less than three months. Barwick is set to be executed at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday at Florida State Prison.
Why did Darryl Barwick get death penalty?
Barwick was found guilty of first-degree murder in November 1986 and sentenced to death two months later following the jury's 9-3 recommendation. He was also convicted of armed burglary, attempted sexual battery and armed robbery.
In 1986, Darryl Barwick was 19 years old when prosecutors say he saw a pretty, young woman sunbathing by the pool of her apartment complex in Panama City and followed her home.
Prosecutors say he had been watching her and went back to his house nearby to grab a knife and gloves before returning to 24-year-old Rebecca Wendt’s apartment.
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Wendt and her sister, Michael Ann, had moved to the Florida Panhandle from Huron, Ohio. Michael Ann Wendt returned home from working in Fort Walton Beach that day in March to find her sister’s bloody, bathing suit-clad body wrapped in her bedroom comforter and left in the bathtub. She had been stabbed 37 times.
History of sexual assault
Barwick was arrested about two weeks after the slaying and confessed to police. He told them he only meant to rob Wendt and stabbed her after she resisted. However, the medical examiner’s office found semen on the comforter wrapped around Wendt’s body and blood tests showed Barwick was within 2% of the population that could have left the semen on the blanket.
Barwick’s brothers would later testify at trial that Barwick, who had a criminal history of sexual assault, confessed to them he killed Wendt because she had seen his face and he didn’t want to go back to prison.
How long has Barwick been on death row?
Now 56, Barwick has been on death row for 36 years, and he is scheduled for execution May 3 after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his death warrant on April 4.
Barwick was initially sentenced to death in 1987, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial. He was convicted again in 1992 and was sentenced to death after a unanimous jury recommendation, according to a document from Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office that was filed Monday at the Supreme Court.
State and federal courts have rejected a series of appeals by Barwick.
Barwick is one of 294 men on Florida’s death row, most are middle-aged or older. According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average time between sentencing and execution has increased by two-thirds in the past 20 years — from 11.4 years in 2000 to 18.9 years in 2020.
After a three-and-a-half year hiatus brought on by COVID-19, DeSantis has signed death warrants for three death row inmates in less than three months.
Florida execution history
Barring a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, Barwick’s execution will be the third in less then three months in Florida.
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DeSantis signed the death warrant as the state was still preparing for the April 12 execution of Louis Gaskin, who was convicted in the 1989 murders of a Flagler County couple.
The death warrants for Gaskin and Barwick came after the state on Feb. 23 put to death Donald David Dillbeck, who murdered a woman in 1990 during a carjacking in a Tallahassee mall parking lot. Dillbeck, 59, was the 100th inmate executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Before Dillbeck’s execution, the state had not carried out a death sentence since Gary Ray Bowles was put to death by lethal injection in August 2019 for a 1994 murder in Jacksonville.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Florida execution: Darryl Barwick 3rd death penalty inmate set to die