STARKE, Fla. - Paul Hill, a former minister who said he murdered an abortion doctor and his bodyguard to save the lives of unborn babies, was executed Wednesday by injection. He was the first person put to death in the United States for anti-abortion violence.
Hill, 49, was condemned for the July 29, 1994, shooting deaths of Dr. John Bayard Britton and his bodyguard, retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Herman Barrett, and wounding of Barrett's wife outside the Ladies Center in Pensacola.
Hill was pronounced dead at 6:08 p.m., Gov. Jeb Bush's office said.
Death penalty opponents and others had urged Bush to halt the execution, some of them warning Hill's death would make him a martyr and unleash more violence against abortion clinics. The governor said he would not be "bullied" into stopping the execution.
Florida abortion clinics and police were on heightened alert for reprisals. Several officials connected to the case received threatening letters last week, accompanied by rifle bullets.
"Paul Hill is a dangerous psychopath," said Marti McKenzie, spokeswoman for Dr. James S. Pendergraft, who runs clinics in Orlando, Ocala, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
Outside Florida State Prison, extra law enforcement officers, explosives sniffing dogs and undercover officers were in place to prevent protests from getting out of hand.
"We don't want an incident of national proportion," Bradford County Sheriff Bob Milner said.
Hill's religious adviser, Donald Spitz, stayed with him until just before his execution.
Since losing his automatic appeals, Hill has not fought his execution and insisted up to the day before his death that he would be forgiven by God for killing to save the unborn.
"I expect a great reward in heaven," he said in an interview Tuesday, during which he was cheerful, often smiling. "I am looking forward to glory."
Hill suggested others should take up his violent cause.
Fringe elements of the anti-abortion movement that condone clinic violence have invited attacks on Web sites that proclaim Hill as a martyr. Members of the mainstream anti-abortion movement have denounced the calls for violence.
Most abortion clinics in Florida reached by The Associated Press on Wednesday declined comment. McKenzie said security is always high at their clinics, but they are particularly cautious now because of Hill's call for people to follow his actions.
"The bottom line is when you work in the industry you're aware those people are out there every single day," she said.
Inspired by the 1993 shooting death of another abortion doctor in Pensacola, Hill purchased a new shotgun and went to a gun range to practice. The morning of the murder, as Britton and the Barretts entered the clinic parking lot, Hill shot James Barrett in the head and upper body. He then reloaded and fired again, hitting Britton in the head and arm. June Barrett was wounded in the arm.
Hill put down the shotgun because he did not want to get shot by police and walked away. When officers arrested him within minutes without incident, he said, "I know one thing, no innocent babies are going to be killed in that clinic today."
Hill was the 57th inmate executed since Florida resumed executions in 1979 and the third in Florida this year.
The killings of Britton and Barrett happened during a time of increased violence at clinics nationwide.
Another abortion doctor had been killed in Pensacola in 1993 by Michael Griffin, who is serving a life sentence. Two receptionists were killed at Boston-area abortion clinics in 1994 by John Salvi, who committed suicide in prison two years later.
Earlier this year, James Kopp was convicted of killing an Buffalo, N.Y., abortion doctor in 1998, while fugitive Eric Rudolph was captured and charged with a 1998 bombing that killed an off-duty police officer at an Alabama abortion clinic.
This asshole wants a reward? You mean, like the 9/11 bombers, and other terrorists expect to be graced with 72 virgins, or something along that line.
I am against abortion, with some exceptions. But no sane person can condone what this nut did. I suspect all this man will get as "reward" is a very hot, humid corner room in Perdition.
Redngold From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 1284 times:
Actually Paul Hill did not bomb anything. He shot the doctor and his bodyguard to death with a shotgun. (The abortion bomber you're probably thinking about is Eric Robert Rudolph, also responsible for the Olympic Park bombing.)
I am also anti-abortion, but I don't believe that you protect life by destroying it. Paul Hill is a murderer as much as the doctor who was performing abortions.
Yet, I am also anti-death penalty. I don't think any human being on this earth has the mind of God to judge what is worthy of death and what is not. Paul Hill should have been locked up in solitary until the point at which he either showed remorse or died, whichever came first. Killing him, even if by a legal ruling, is still murder.
May he rest in peace as well as the doctor and guard who he killed. I hope that in Hill's last breath that he did truly repent of the murders.
Boeing4ever From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 1230 times:
This guy had the gall to say he'd go to heaven for what he had done! Puh-leaze! What happened to Thou Shalt Not Kill!? God will forgive if one has remorse, but for this man, his idea of heaven must be fire, brimstone, and little red people shoving pitchforks up his ass. He dares call himself a Minister.
Although I don't fully agree with abortion...a terrorist is a terrorist. And one as belligerent as this one got what he deserved.
Saintsman From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 1168 times:
The man is a religious fanatic and therefore no different to the ones we find in the Middle East.
Those people who use religion as an excuse to carry out their views (conveniently ignoring the values that don't support their views) and end up killing other people (often innocent) don't deserve to be on this earth. If they think that they will end up in heaven they are badly deluded.
Sebolino From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 1160 times:
At least, this case is interesting mixing religion, the usual good/evil we find in all American stories (as we can read in the posts) with even some view on heaven/hell, feelings about abortion and death penalty, but opposing these two things.
Vafi88 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 1144 times:
Cfalk - Nobody is FOR abortion, me being pro-choice, I'm not FOR it, it's just that I don't care that other people do it...it's their life. I don't go out and say.... HERE'S A FREE COUPON FOR AN ABORTION!
Jcs17 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 1106 times:
IMHO he is worse than the 9/11 Hijackers. Not what he did, but why he did it.
Are you fucking kidding? This has to be some kind of sick joke. 3,000 innocent people died on 9/11, and one abortion doctor was killed here. So what your trying to say is that the pro-choice movement is more important than that of worldwide terrorism. Dude, get some help, youre a sick kid...
GDB From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 1058 times:
So some of these 'Pro-Lifers' favour, or actually do, KILL people?
Anyone see the irony? They won't, that's the trouble with fundamentalism, no sense of irony, or any kind of balance.
As for me, well I was adopted at 6 weeks, I was lucky, yet if I had been conceived a few months later I could have been legally aborted, as the 1967 abortion act came into being.
Yet I'm firmly pro choice, as in the years leading up to the 1967 act, around 1000 women died at the hands of botched, illegal, unsupervised, back street abortions annually.
So who is saving lives here?
Now the US population is some 4 times that of the UK, so a lot of death still, as well as several times that number maimed in illegal abortions.
Hell of a human price.
I bet that the rich and powerful could get a much better supervised illegal abortion though, money talks.
However, I'm against the death penalty, too many mistakes are made that cannot be rectified, again this falls far more on those lower in societies pecking order.
I would much prefer if this turd had spent the rest of his days in a supermax prison.
He's died happy, nutcase that he is, I don't call that 'closure'.
A sad business all round.
GloBaLeXpResS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (11 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 1030 times:
Anyone ever listened to Bill Hicks?
"Pro Lifers, killing PEOPLE... its irony on a base level"
And I agree with what he said about abortion too:
"You're not a person, until you're in my phone book".
What this Hill fellow did was despicable and rediculous, but it doesn't change my views on the death penalty - as GDB said, there are too many things that can't be rectified after it. Its so final that its scary. I mean, there have been people released from prison in this country having served time for crimes that they did not commit, and crimes for which if they lived in America, they would have been executed.
: Paul Hill is a murderer as much as the doctor who was performing abortions. That's really a terrible remark, without the slightest sign of respect for
: God fearing Christians frothing at the mouth with excitement over another death sentence being handed down. Does anyone see the irony in this? How are
: More Bill Hicks quotes on this; "If you're so pro-life, if you're so pro-child, then adopt one that's all alone and get them out of a terrible situati
: Todareisinger, Abortion is murder in my mind. Paul Hill is a murderer of an adult human being. An abortion doctor is a murderer of unborn human beings
: I hope the impressed on him, that he was simply undergoing a post-natal abortion.
: I wonder where Paul Hill is tonight? No, I really don't, he is in hell beacause he was truly unable to see the wrong he did and repent. He thought he
: Nobody is FOR abortion, me being pro-choice, I'm not FOR it, it's just that I don't care that other people do it...it's their life. Well said. I feel
: I hope that in Hill's last breath that he did truly repent of the murders. And that, in a nutshell, is why the death penalty was imposed on him and ca
: Hill, 49, was condemned for the July 29, 1994, shooting deaths of Dr. John Bayard Britton and his bodyguard, retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Herman B
: Abortion is murder in my mind. Paul Hill is a murderer of an adult human being. An abortion doctor is a murderer of unborn human beings. I am entitled
: Lets not forget that he killed more than the doctor who carried out the abortions. Are we to think that the bodyguard was also guilty just because he
36 Alpha 1
: You have the right to be against abortion, but Dr. Britton was NOT a "murderer". Toda, if one believes that that fetus is a living human being, as I d
: Admirable sentiments Alpha 1, but as I tried to point out before, the alternative is illegal abortions, with lots of dead women to add to the dead unb