Florida Governor Scott signed a death warrant for 47-year-old Paul Augusta Howell convicted of killing a Florida State Trooper in February 1992.
“When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation” said the founder of Officer Down Memorial Foundation Chris Cosgriff.
The foundation tracks and honors all law enforcement deaths while on duty. By signing a death warrant for killing a police officer in line of duty, the Governor is sending a powerful message of lex talonis, Latin for “an eye for an eye”. Most murderers only get life in Florida, but not for killing a law enforcement official.
Florida Highway Trooper James Herbert Fulford was killed by a bomb while searching a vehicle. Most troopers die from gun fire. At the academy troopers are trained to protect themselves against gun fire, but a bomb is not the usual threat. It became a threat in 1992.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation it was determined that Howell made the bomb. He placed it inside a microwave, and gift wrapped it. He then paid man to deliver the package to his ex-wife, who had prior knowledge of a murder he had been involved with and had intimate knowledge of an active drug ring he was involved with.
The male agreed to deliver the package thinking it only contained drugs. Trooper Fulford pulled over the car being driven by male and one of his associates. Both men were arrested during the traffic stop and taken to jail by two Jefferson County deputies. Shortly thereafter, Trooper Fulford was killed while still searching the car.
It was later determined by a State's explosive expert that Trooper Fulford was holding the package when it exploded. The driver of the vehicle was sentenced to 40 years.
Trooper Fulford had been a member of the Florida Highway Patrol for 14 years.
In 2012, a total of 126 law enforcement personnel died in line of duty, five from Florida. In comparison, in 1992 a total of 170 died with 14 from Florida. Perhaps the Governor's message is being heard.