Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

« Al Cardenas warns there's a GOP downside to the extended primary calendar | Main | Marco Rubio joins senators in trip to Libya »

Cop killer Manuel Valle, executed and declared dead at 7:14 p.m.

STARKE — A man convicted of shooting and killing a Coral Gables police officer and wounding another one 33 years ago was put to death Wednesday at Florida State Prison.

Manuel Valle, 61, was executed by lethal injection for the murder of Officer Louis Pena, who had pulled Valle over for running a red light in 1978.

He was declared dead at 7:14 p.m.

Valle, strapped to the gurney in the execution chamber, chose not to make a final statement.

He did request a last meal: fried chicken breast, white rice, garlic toast, a Coca-Cola and peach cobbler. He ate most of it. More here.

Earlier in the morning, he visited for three hours with relatives — first for two hours without any physical contact with them, and then for an hour with contact with three people: a niece, a sister and his daughter, Rebecca, who was 2 years old when Valle was arrested.

In the afternoon, Valle met with a lay Catholic chaplain.

"He is very calm," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said of Valle two hours before the execution.

The execution happened as scheduled. Valle had last-ditch appeals pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, but it did not rule to delay or block the execution before 4 p.m.

As the family of the condemned inmate, Valle's relatives could not witness the execution. But some of Pena's relatives were expected, as were current or former Coral Gables police officers.

A couple of Pena's former Gables colleagues came to the prison Wednesday as a show of solidarity. Among them was Harry S. Pickering, a retired police lieutenant who was working on April 4, 1978, the night Pena was shot and killed.

"I am glad this day is finally here," said Pickering, who described Pena as "a fine man and a superb officer."

Though some protesters had been expected across the street from the prison, as is typical before executions, none had shown up a few hours before it was scheduled to take place.

Valle was the first Florida inmate executed using pentobarbital as part of the lethal injection. The state changed its drug protocol earlier this year to include the sedative, which is intended to knock the inmate unconscious.

Two more drugs paralyze him and then stop his heart.

Florida used to use a different anesthetic, sodium thiopental, in its lethal injections. But the company that made the drug discontinued its production because it did not want the drug used for executions.

The Danish manufacturer of pentobarbital, Lundbeck, has also asked Florida to refrain from using its product in lethal injections.

 -- Patricia Mazzei