The “ninja killer,” also known as Louis Bernard Gaskin, was put to death in Florida on Wednesday by lethal injection for the 1989 slayings of Robert and Georgette Sturmfels. Gaskin reportedly shot the victims with a.22-caliber rifle when they were visiting their winter residence in Flagler County, dressed entirely in all-black ninja garb. On the same night, he also committed an armed robbery, a burglary, and an attempted murder of another couple. Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, increased the number of executions, which led to Gaskin’s death.
In order to get things ready for his much anticipated presidential campaign, Governor DeSantis has been swiftly signing execution warrants. He presided over two executions in 2019 in the first four years of his administration. The state has been carrying out executions quickly this year; Darryl B. Barwick’s scheduled execution for the 1986 murder of Rebecca Wendt is just three weeks away, six weeks after Donald Dillbeck was executed for the Tallahassee murder of Faye Vann in 1990.
With 297 more prisoners on Florida’s death row, this execution will mark the state’s 100th since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976.
A clock, two lamps, and a videocassette recorder that Gaskin had taken from the Sturmfels’ house were discovered in his home, leading to his conviction for first-degree murder. The items that were taken were intended to be Christmas gifts for Sturmfels’ girlfriend. In 1990, the jury, by a vote of 8 to 4, voted that Gaskin be given the death penalty, which the judge approved. Although the legislature may send DeSantis a bill this week that would permit 8-4 jury recommendations for the death penalty, Florida law now needs a unanimous jury vote.
Before his trial, Gaskin informed a psychotherapist that he knew what he was doing and swiftly confessed to the crimes, according to local media reports from the time.
“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.”
Since his execution warrant was issued, Gaskin has filed multiple appeals; however, both the state and the US Supreme Court have denied them. The most recent denial occurred on Tuesday.