Florida State Prison officials executed a man on Thursday for the rape and murder of his stepdaughter in September 1992. He had also been serving a life sentence for the murder of his sleeping wife on the same night. Governor Rick Scott’s office confirmed that 43-year-old Chadwick Banks received a lethal injection and was pronounced deceased at 7:27 p.m. EST in the Florida State Prison in Starke. Although his execution had been scheduled for 6 p.m., a late appeal filed by Banks’ attorney delayed the start of the proceedings. The rate at which executions are being carried out in Florida has spurred conjecture that Gov. Scott will smash Jeb Bush’s prior record for executions by a Florida governor during two terms in office.
Chadwick Banks was 21 when the crimes occurred. Authorities say that Banks and his wife, Cassandra Banks, had been at a bar in Quincy, Florida, playing pool and drinking the night of the attacks. Cassandra left the pool hall about one hour before her husband. Upon returning home at approximately 3 a.m., Chadwick shot his sleeping wife in the head and then spent approximately 20 minutes in his 10-year-old stepdaughter’s room, sexually assaulting her before shooting and killing her. Authorities discovered Melody Cooper on her knees, her body slumped on her bed, wearing no clothes below her waist.
After his arrest four days later, Chadwick Banks admitted to detectives that he had “spanked” and molested his stepdaughter, but said that Melody had not resisted or attempted to escape. Evidence proved his claims to be false. Melody had blood from Banks under her fingernails and on her pillow as well as his DNA inside of her. Her face was cut and bruised. Upon examination, it was determined that she had been sodomized.
Jessica Cary, spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Corrections, said that Chadwick Banks requested a final meal of banana pudding, French fries, fried fish, hush puppies and ice cream. He was visited by 14 family members and his spiritual adviser prior to his execution.
The Florida Prison system uses a mixture of three drugs, given intravenously, to perform executions. The drugs work to first render the condemned unconscious before causing paralysis, after which cardiac arrest occurs, killing the inmate.
While awaiting the administration of the lethal injection, Banks, who had on a white skullcap commonly worn by the Muslim Brotherhood, addressed the victims’ family directly when offering his final words. He apologized for causing them “hurt and pain,” continuing on by saying that he has attempted over the years to determine a “reasonable” explanation for his crimes, “But how could such acts be reasonable?”
Annette Black, grandmother and mother of the victims, spoke after Banks was put to death, saying that she was thankful he apologized before he died. She hopes that the murders of her family members serve as a warning to people who might commit similar crimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This is the eighth execution to take place in Florida in 2014, and the twentieth to occur since the start of Scott’s gubernatorial term in 2011. Prior governor Jeb Bush presided over 21 while serving two terms, which is the most executions to occur in Florida since capital punishment was reinstated in 1979. Scott has only recently been reelected for a second term in office and is in the process of concluding his first term.
By Jennifer Pfalz