A twice-convicted murderer who has lived on Florida's death row for more than 3
decades is scheduled to die by lethal injection this week for killing a St.
Petersburg mother — but like many executions, why he is being killed now and
why it didn't happen years ago are something of a mystery.
If 65-year-old Robert Brian Waterhouse is executed Wednesday at Florida State
Prison near Starke, he will have lingered on death row longer than any of the
previous 276 people executed by the state, according to the Department of
Corrections. He's spent more than 31 years mostly by himself in a 6-by-9-foot
cell as his various appeals worked their way through the courts.
Just 18 of the 395 people currently on death row have been there longer than
Waterhouse, who was sentenced in September 1980 for raping and killing
29-year-old Deborah Kammerer in January 1980.
No one in Gov. Rick Scott's office would talk in detail about the process that
led him to pick Waterhouse over others whose appeals have run their course.
It's the third death warrant Scott has signed since taking office in January
"Governor Scott takes his legal duty to sign death warrants very seriously and
is committed to following the law in as thoughtful and deliberative a manner as
possible. There are many factors that bear upon the governor's decision each
time he must choose to sign a death warrant, which is always on a case-by-case
basis," his aides said in a statement.
Asked about it at an appearance in Tampa last week, Scott said he sits down
with a team of staffers and goes through the roster of death row inmates who
have exhausted their appeals.
"I spend a lot of time praying about it and thinking about it, and it's a hard
decision," he said.
Others familiar with the process say that because many condemned inmates' cases
are in various stages of appeal and new litigation is filed all the time, there
is never a clear choice for the governor.
The attorney general's office is charged with keeping track of the status of
cases, and generally responds to requests from the governor regarding
individual inmates who've been through their major appeals and the clemency
process, and would likely be unsuccessful with any appeals filed after the
death warrant is signed.
Typically, they're inmates who haven't initiated any new litigation in a number
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.