The sun will set on October 3rd at 6 PM, and with it, the life of Michael Duane Zack III. Zack, 54, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection for the gruesome murders of two women he met at beachfront bars in the Florida Panhandle in 1996.
Zack’s execution is the sixth in Florida this year, and the first since 2019. It comes at the end of a long legal saga that began when Zack was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997.
The murders took place in the summer of 1996. Zack first met Laurie Russillo at a bar in Panama City. The two went back to Russillo’s hotel room, where Zack strangled her to death. He then stole her car and drove to Pensacola Beach, where he met Ravonne Smith at another bar. Zack and Smith went back to Smith’s apartment, where he sexually assaulted and stabbed her to death.
Who is Michael Duane Zack?
Zack was arrested two days later for breaking into a home. He confessed to the murders of Russillo and Smith, and was sentenced to death for Smith’s murder.
Zack’s lawyers have argued that he should not be executed because he has fetal alcohol syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the courts have rejected these arguments, and Zack’s execution is scheduled to go forward.
Zack’s execution is the latest in a series of executions in Florida this year. In February, Donald Dillbeck was executed for the murder of his wife. In April, Louis Bernard Gaskin was executed for the murder of a convenience store clerk. And in May, Darryl B. Barwick was executed for the murder of his ex-wife.
The executions have been met with protests from death penalty opponents, who argue that they are cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Florida Supreme Court has upheld the executions, and they are expected to continue.
Zack’s execution is a reminder of the dark side of human nature. It is also a reminder of the importance of fighting for justice for victims of crime.