A man convicted of raping a 29-year-old mother and dragging her into Tampa
Bay's surf to drown more than 3 decades ago was executed by lethal injection
Wednesday at Florida State Prison.
Twice-convicted murderer Robert Brian Waterhouse, 65, was pronounced dead at
8:22 p.m., 11 minutes after the execution began. He had been on death row for
more than 31 years — longer than any inmate previously executed in Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant last month. His execution was delayed
2 hours as the U.S. Supreme Court considered a last-minute appeal before
rejecting it. The court had rejected a similar appeal earlier in the day.
"You are about to witness the execution of a wrongly convicted and innocent
man," Waterhouse said. He blamed his conviction on corrupt prosecutors, a
prejudiced judge and a rubber-stamp appellate system. "The state broke its own
law in destroying DNA evidence in my case so I could not prove my innocence. To
my wife and family, I want to say I love you all and that's it."
Long Island Waterhouse was convicted in 1980 of murdering Deborah Kammerer of
St. Petersburg, whose body was found in the tidal flats of Tampa Bay. She'd
been beaten, raped and dragged into the bay, where she drowned.
Unable to identify her immediately, police turned to the public for help.
Neighbors identified Kammerer's body, and an anonymous tipster led police to
Waterhouse. He had pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree murder for killing a
77-year-old Long Island woman during a 1966 burglary. He was sentenced to life
but was paroled after 8 years.
A bartender had seen Kammerer and Waterhouse leave a St. Petersburg bar
together. Blood, hair and fibers in Waterhouse's car were linked to the victim.
Waterhouse admitted having sex with Kammerer but denied killing her.
Then-Gov. Bob Graham signed a death warrant for Waterhouse in 1985, but his
execution was delayed by an appeal that eventually got him a new sentencing
hearing. That hearing in 1990 ended like the first, with a jury recommending
execution by a 12-0 vote and a judge sentencing him to death.
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court had rejected arguments that Waterhouse
should be spared because of testimony from a newly discovered witness and the
destruction of physical evidence that made it impossible to perform DNA testing
that could exonerate him. Justices concluded the new testimony was unreliable
and wouldn't have been enough to acquit Waterhouse if he were to be retried.
Waterhouse visited for 2 hours Wednesday morning with his wife Fran. They met
and married while he was behind bars. He declined to meet with a minister or
Outside the prison Wednesday, more than 40 people protested the execution in a
small, roped-off area across the street. Roman Catholic priest Father Phil
Egitto of Daytona Beach brought more than half the group by bus.
"Violence begets violence. This is basically premeditated murder," Egitto said.
"Killing is wrong."
The group sang songs and held up and hung signs, including some that said,
"Murder is a sign. The death penalty is legal murder" and "We remember the
victims but not with more killing" and "Though shalt not kill."
Only 2 people stood in a similar area for death penalty supporters, Jo Ellen
Isbell, 49, and her fiancé, Jay Golding, 41. They drove two hours from Citrus
"I read a lot about him and I just wanted to support (Kammerer)," Isbell said,
saying she also drove up for the execution of Oba Chandler in November, the
only other time she's made the trip to Starke for an execution. "My heart
breaks for the family and I am very much for what's happening."
(source: Orlando Sentinel)