Florida is preparing to execute Gary Ray Bowles Thursday for one in a string of murders targeting gay men during the 1990s. If the execution happens, it would be the second since Gov. Ron DeSantis took office in January.
The execution is set for 6 p.m., the Florida Department of Corrections said. DeSantis signed the death warrant on June 11.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down Bowles’ latest appeal on Monday. He has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bowles is believed to have killed six gay men whom he’d met up and down the East Coast, but his death warrant involves the 1994 death of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville. He reportedly befriended men he met in bars and murdered and robbed them after they offered him a place to stay.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops have urged DeSantis to commute Bowles’ sentence, arguing in a letter Monday that “premeditated, state-sanctioned homicide of Mr. Bowles would only perpetuate the cycle of violence that victimized him, and which he later perpetuated.”
First Lady Casey DeSantis had been listed as a special guest at a Republican women’s event in Tampa Thursday, but informed organizers she’d skip the appearance under a governor’s office protocol forbidding public appearances on execution days.