Donald Dillbeck Executed in Florida, Becoming 100th Inmate Since 1976

Donald Dillbeck, 59, was executed in Florida on Thursday, becoming the 100th inmate to be put to death since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Dillbeck had been sentenced to death 32 years ago by a non-unanimous jury, which is now unconstitutional. His execution was denied a final appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.[0]

Dillbeck was sentenced to death in 1991 after he tried to carjack a vehicle in Tallahassee, resulting in the fatal stabbing of Faye Vann. He was convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and armed burglary.[1] His last words before his execution were, “I know I hurt people when I was young. I really messed up. But I know Ron DeSantis has done a lot worse. He’s taken a lot from a lot of people. I speak for all men, women and children. He’s put his foot on our necks.”[2]

The execution of Dillbeck has caused controversy due to the diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome, which was not recognized at the time of his original sentencing.[3] His lawyers argued that the neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, ND-PAE, should have exempted him from execution.[4] They argued in a court document that this condition is “recognized by the medical community as an intellectual disability-equivalent condition” and should be considered.[2]

The United States Supreme Court has determined that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment to execute individuals with intellectual disabilities.[2] In response to this ruling, Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested changing Florida law so death sentences would not have to be unanimous decisions by a jury, but rather a supermajority.[0] And Republican lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would make that change and allow a judge to override a jury’s recommendation.[5]

The Vann family members expressed relief at the execution of Dillbeck, saying it provided them some closure. He was given a last meal of fried shrimp, mushrooms, onion rings, ice cream, pecan pie and chocolate, prior to the execution.[6]

Dillbeck was originally sentenced to life in prison for the 1979 shooting death of deputy Dwight Lynn Hall in Lee County Florida, when he was just 15 years old.[3] He escaped custody and killed again in 1990, resulting in his death sentence.

0. “Donald Dillbeck executed for killing a woman in Tallahassee in 1990” WTXL ABC 27 Tallahassee News, 23 Feb. 2023,

1. “Florida execution of Donald David Dillbeck: Updated coverage” Tallahassee Democrat, 23 Feb. 2023,

2. “Florida Executes Man Used As ‘Political Pawn’ By Ron DeSantis” HuffPost, 23 Feb. 2023,

3. “Florida executes first inmate since 2019” UPI News, 24 Feb. 2023,

4. “Donald Dillbeck executed in 1990 murder” WUWF, 24 Feb. 2023,

5. “Florida execution: Donald Dillbeck saves last words for Gov. DeSantis” Tallahassee Democrat, 24 Feb. 2023,

6. “Florida cop killer on death row eats last meal before execution” Fox News, 23 Feb. 2023,

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