A man convicted of murdering a couple in Florida in 1989 is set to be executed next month after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a death warrant on Monday.
Louis Bernard Gaskin, now 56, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Robert and Georgette Sturmfels in their Flagler County home on December 20, 1989. He was also convicted of armed robbery, burglary, and attempting to murder another couple who lived nearby that same night.
Gaskin, dubbed the “ninja killer” because he dressed in all-black ninja garb during his crimes, shot his victims with a.22-caliber rifle.
Items stolen from the Sturmfels’ home — a clock, two lamps, and a videocassette recorder — were discovered at his home. He intended to give the items to his girlfriend for Christmas.
Gaskin confessed to the crimes and told a psychologist ahead of his trial that he was aware of what he was doing.
“The guilt was always there,” Gaskin said at the time. “The devil had more of a hold than God did. I knew that I was wrong. I wasn’t insane.”
Jurors voted 8-4 in 1990 to recommend the death penalty, which the judge accepted.
A unanimous jury vote is required for capital punishment in Florida under current law. The state Legislature, on the other hand, is considering lowering the threshold.
Gaskin has filed numerous appeals since his sentencing, but by 2020, the Florida Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court had cleared the way for his death warrant to be signed, according to Attorney General Ashley Moody.
According to DeSantis’ office, the execution is scheduled for April 12th at 6 p.m. This would be Florida’s second execution this year after a moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in 2019.
Gaskin’s execution would be DeSantis’ fourth, a much slower rate than previous Florida governors.
The state Supreme Court’s briefing schedule states that all filings in any new Gaskin appeals must be completed by March 31.