A mentally ill man who claimed to be “the prince of God” has been executed in Florida for the murders of eight people in the late 1970s.

John Errol Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic, was declared dead from lethal injection at 6.17pm local time on Monday.

He made a brief statement in front of 25 witnesses.

“I just want everyone to know that I am the prince of God and will rise again,” he said calmly before receiving the injection.

Three minutes into the procedure, he moved his head, strained his neck, moved his feet, put his head back down and closed his eyes.

The entire process took 16 minutes.

His execution came less than two hours after the US Supreme Court denied a final request for a stay.

It had raised protests from several groups of mental health and legal experts who said Ferguson was incapable of understanding the punishment.

Ferguson’s defence team said it was “gravely disappointed” the court failed “to clarify the standard for evaluating an individual’s competence to be executed and denied his request to invoke the court’s categorical bar on the execution of the insane.”

They argued he should have been transferred to a life sentence because of his diagnosed mental illness, which pre-dated his crimes.

The 65-year-old, who had spent 35 years on death row, was convicted of killing six people in a drug-related massacre in 1977 and of killing two 17-year-olds in 1978.

Brian Glenfeldt and Belinda Worley were shot as Ferguson, dressed as a police officer, tried to rob them while they were parked in a lovers’ lane.

His execution was previously suspended at the last minute in September 2012.

 

Sky News