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‘Ninja Killer’ Executed For 1989 Killing of Couple in Florida

Florida executed a man known as the “ninja killer” on Wednesday for the 1989 slayings of a couple visiting the state from New Jersey. Louis Bernard Gaskin, 56, was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection. He was convicted of killing Robert Sturmfels, 56, and Georgette Sturmfels, 55, on Dec. 20, 1989, in their winter home on Florida’s northeastern coast. Gaskin, who was dubbed the “ninja killer” because he wore all-black ninja clothing during the crimes, shot his victims with a .22-caliber rifle. In addition to the first-degree murder conviction of the Sturmfels, he was also convicted of armed robbery, burglary, and attempted murder of another couple the same night, according to the Associated Press. Gaskin quickly confessed to the crimes and told a psychologist before his trial that he knew what he was doing. “The guilt was always there,” Gaskin said. “The devil had more of a hold than God did. I knew that I was wrong. I wasn’t insane.” When asked Wednesday if he had any final statement, Gaskin said: “Justice is not about the crime. It’s not about the criminal. It’s about the law.”

There are 297 people on Florida's death row. Gov. Ron DeSantis has been signing death warrants at a rapid pace this year as he prepares his widely expected presidential campaign. In his first four years in office, DeSantis oversaw only two executions. Gaskin’s execution came six weeks after Donald Dillbeck, 59, was put to death for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann, 44, in Tallahassee, and three weeks before the scheduled execution of Darryl Barwick for slaying Rebecca Wendt, 24, in 1986. Barring any stays for Barwick, it will be the shortest period that three executions have been carried out in Florida since three were put to death within 36 days in 2014 under former Gov. Rick Scott. Gaskin's execution was Florida's 101st since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In Gaskin's case, jurors voted 8-4 in 1990 to recommend the death sentence, which the judge accepted. Florida law now requires a unanimous jury vote for capital punishment, although the legislature may send DeSantis a bill this week that would eliminate the unanimous jury requirement for executions.


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