A death row prisoner screamed 'murderers' repeatedly as he was executed by lethal injection in Florida, after eating steak and ice cream for his last meal.
Eric Branch, 47, was convicted of raping and murdering college student Susan Morris in 1993, having approached her when she left a night class. Her naked body was found in the woods two days later, with signs that she had been beaten, sexually assaulted and strangled on her way home.
"She had been beaten, stomped, sexually assaulted and strangled. She bore numerous bruises and lacerations, both eyes were swollen shut," the justices wrote.
According to court records, he was also convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Indiana, and of another sexual assault in Panama City 10 days before he fatally attacked Morris.
Throughout his trial, Branch maintained his innocence, and according to WEAR TV claimed another man called Eric was the person behind Morris' murder.
Outside the prison anti-death penalty protestors gathered, including former death row inmate Herman Lindsay, who was exonerated in 2009 and thinks the practice should be abolished.
Herman Lindsey talks to people during a vigil for Eric Branch. Credit: PA
"There's no way to guarantee we're not killing innocent people," he said.
Father Phil Egitto also drove three hours to show his opposition, believing that, while he doesn't agree with what Branch did, he also doesn't think execution will rectify what happened.
"When we kill, we end up no better than the killer, because we become killers," he said. "I think no, I'm not condoning what he wanted, at the same time I'm saying all of us are participating in a death machine by having executions in our state."
For Branch's last meal, he had a pork chop, a T-bone steak, French fries, a bottle of ginger ale and two pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Michelle Glady said that Branch had been visited by his daughter on Thursday morning, but had decided against a meeting with a spiritual advisor.
After his execution, the family of Susan Morris addressed the media with a statement.
"We have mourned her longer than she was with us," Wendy Hill Morris, Susan Morris' sister, said.
Her former classmate Don Welker also told WEAR TV: "It's something that has followed us for the last 25 years. It's just something that you never really get used to."
He added: "She was just an all-around very energetic, very thorough, intelligent, funny person to be around. If she was in the room, she just brought everyone's spirits up by being around."
Featured Image Credit: PA