PENSACOLA, Fla. – Michael Duane Zack, the Florida man on death row for robbing, sexually assaulting, and murdering a woman during a crime spree in 1996, was executed Tuesday night at Florida State Prison.
When asked if he had any last words, Zack replied, “Yes sir,” lifting his head toward the observation window. “I love you all.”
Zack died by lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Raiford, roughly 45 miles southwest of Jacksonville. A cocktail administered by the execution team included a sedative, paralytic, and a drug to stop his heart. The drugs were administered at 6:02 p.m. and he was pronounced dead by 6:14 p.m., although there were no visible signs of breathing after the first minute.
The family of Ravonne Smith, one of two victims killed by Zack, witnessed the execution but declined to speak to the media afterward. The family of his second victim, Laura Rosillo, was not in attendance.
The Pensacola News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, reached out to both families through the State Attorney's Office prior to the execution and they declined to comment.
Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty shared a written statement by Zack moments after his execution.
"Twenty-seven years ago, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. I did things that have hurt a lot of people − not only the victims and their families and friends, but my own family and friends as well," Zack wrote. "I have woken up every single day since then filled with remorse and a wish to make my time here on earth mean something more than the worst thing I ever did.
Zack ended his statement by speaking directly to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"And finally, to Governor Desantis and the Clemency Board: I love you. I forgive you. I pray for you."
The day of execution
Zack woke at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, meeting first with his wife, Ann-Kristin, and later in the day with his spiritual advisor. His wife was not allowed to witness the execution, but family did remain outside the prison as it happened.
He declined a last meal, Florida prison officials said.
Zack made multiple appeals to stop the execution. All were denied.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt his execution with justices issuing two orders declining to take up appeals of decisions by the Florida Supreme Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which refused to issue stays of execution.
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously refused to block Zack’s execution rejecting arguments that he should be spared the death penalty because of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Ravonne Smith killing
Zack was put to death in connection with the fatal stabbing and rape of a woman he met in a bar during a crime spree involving another woman's death nearly 30 years ago.
Zack was sentenced to death for the June 13, 1996 murder of 31-year-old Ravonne Smith in her Escambia County home near the Gulf Coast, court records show. Zack is also serving a life sentence in the killing of another woman, Laura Rosillo, he met at a bar in Okaloosa County.
In 1997, a jury convicted Zack of first-degree murder, robbery with a firearm and sexual battery in Smith's slaying.
State records show he was sentenced to death on Nov. 24, 1997.
Zack, who is from Tallahassee, met Smith, an employee of Dirty Joe’s bar, on June 13, 1996, court documents from one of Zack’s appeals to the Florida Supreme Court read. The pair ended up a Smith’s house, where Zack hit her in the head with a beer bottle, court papers state.
"Once he incapacitated Smith, Zack went to the kitchen where he got an oyster knife," court records read. "He returned to the guest bedroom where Smith lay and stabbed her in the chest four times with the knife."
On Aug. 17, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a death warrant for Zack.
Laura Rosillo killing
Zack is also serving a life sentence for the slaying of Rosillo shortly before the Smith killing.
According to court records, Zack met Rosillo at another bar, and went to the beach where Zack attacked her.
“Once on the beach, Zack attacked Rosillo and beat her while they were still in the Honda,” court records show. “He then pulled Rosillo from the car... strangled her, dragged her body behind a sand dune, kicked dirt over her face, and departed.”
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Zack's execution marks Florida's 6th and final this year
State records show, Zack is the sixth person executed in the state this year and the eighth to die under DeSantis.
No other executions are scheduled in Florida through the end of 2023.
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Florida's last execution: James Barnes
Prior to Zack, Florida's last execution took place on Aug. 8, when the state executed James Phillip Barnes, 61, for the 1988 slaying of a woman in her Melbourne condominium.
His death came on the heels of the June 15 execution of Duane Owen, 62, for the 1984 fatal stabbing of a Palm Beach County woman.
Before that, the state executed Darryl Barwick, 56, on May 3 for the 1986 murder of a woman in her Panama City apartment; Louis Gaskin, 56, on April 12 in the 1989 murders of a couple in Flagler County; and Donald David Dilbeck, 59, on February 23 for the 1990 murder of a woman outside a Tallahassee mall.
Contributing: Mollye Barrows.
Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Michael Zack execution: Florida man convicted in Ravonne Smith killing