State executes Juan Carlos Chavez, who raped and killed a boy 18 years ago

STARKE, Fla. - UPDATE: Juan Carlos Chavez was executed at 8:17 p.m., according to the governor's office.

PREVIOUS: The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the last-minute appeals of a Florida man scheduled for execution for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old boy 18 years ago.

The court issued brief orders Wednesday night rejecting the appeals, which focused on a challenge to Florida's method of lethal injection. The exact time was uncertain for the execution later Wednesday at Florida State Prison in Starke.
 
It had been delayed from the original 6 p.m. time because of the appeals.

PREVIOUS: The Florida Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for a man who raped and killed a 9-year-old boy in Miami-Dade County 18 years ago.

The court refused to halt Wednesday's scheduled execution to allow Juan Carlos Chavez time to challenge Florida's method of lethal injection. Chavez is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke.

Chavez still has an appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

PREVIOUS: A man who raped and killed a 9-year-old boy from Miami-Dade County 18 years ago, spurring the boy's parents to work for enhanced sexual predator confinement laws, is scheduled to die Wednesday by lethal injection.

Juan Carlos Chavez is scheduled for execution at 6 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke, Fla.

Chavez abducted Jimmy Ryce at gunpoint after the boy got off a school bus on Sept. 11, 1995, in rural southwestern Miami-Dade County. Trial testimony showed Chavez raped the boy and then shot him when he tried to escape, dismembering his body and putting the parts in concrete-covered planters.

Despite an intensive search by police and volunteers, regular appeals for help through the media and distribution of flyers about Jimmy, it wasn't until three months later that Chavez's landlady discovered the boy's book bag and the murder weapon - a revolver Chavez had stolen from her house - in the trailer where Chavez lived. Chavez later confessed to police and led them to Jimmy's remains.

He was found guilty of murder, sexual battery and kidnapping.

Chavez's most recent round of state and federal court appeals have focused on claims that Florida's lethal injection procedure is unconstitutional, that he didn't get due process during clemency hearings and that he should have an execution stay to pursue additional appeals in the federal courts.

Ryce's death led to changes in the legal system, and the way police respond to missing child cases.

Don Ryce, Jimmy's father said recently that he and his wife became determined to turn their son's horrific slaying into something positive, in part because they felt they owed something to all the people who tried to help find him. They also refused to wallow in misery.

"You've got to do something or you do nothing. That was just not the way we wanted to live the rest of our lives," he said.

The Ryces created the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a nonprofit organization based in Vero Beach that works to increase public awareness and education about sexual predators, provides counseling for parents of victims and helps train law enforcement agencies in ways to respond to missing children cases.

The organization has also provided, free of charge, more than 400 bloodhounds to police departments around the country and abroad. Ryce said if police searching for Jimmy had bloodhounds they might have found him in time.

Another accomplishment was 1998 passage in Florida of the Jimmy Ryce Act, versions of which have also been adopted in other states. Under the law, sexual predators found to be still highly dangerous can be detained through civil commitment even after they have served their prison sentences. Such people must prove they have been rehabilitated before they can be released. Chavez had no criminal record, so the law would not have affected him.

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