Florida: William Van Poyck executed for 1987 prison break


William Van Poyck


Florida State Prison

A Florida man who orchestrated a deadly 1987 prison break was put to death Wednesday night after the US Supreme Court denied a stay of execution.

William Van Poyck, 58, died at 7:24 p.m. local time by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, WPBF reported.

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Sleep-deprived and fresh off a cocaine bender, Van Poyck hatched a last-minute plan to bust a buddy out of a prison van in West Palm Beach in the summer of 1987, according to court documents.

Prison guards, however, put up a fight and one of them, Fred Griffis, was shot dead.

Van Poyck has maintained he never pulled the trigger and that jurors didn't hear the whole story.

His case garnered international attention because he published three books and maintained a blog while on death row.

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"He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis' life," Lisa Van Poyck told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "He is guilty of a crime of trying to break somebody out of a prison transport van — he had no intention of hurting anyone."

Before his execution, Van Poyck declined a final meal and visited with his sister, four friends and a spiritual adviser.

Local residents held a vigil outside the prison Wednesday night, calling for an end to the death penalty.