By Lazaro Aleman
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The State of Florida has rescheduled the execution of Paul Augustus Howell, convicted of the 1992 killing of Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper Jimmy Fulford, for Wednesday, Feb. 26. Gov. Rick Scott signed the new execution order on Friday, Jan. 17, following the lifting of the temporary stay of execution issued by the 11th District Federal Court last January. The temporary stay stemmed from the court’s decision to make a determination if the case warranted a final federal review, a right routinely and universally afforded prison inmates but denied Howell because one of his former attorneys had missed a filing deadline for a crucial piece of paperwork. The state initially had scheduled Howell for execution by lethal injection on Feb. 26 of last year. In January 1995, a jury convicted Howell of first-degree murder and the presiding judge sentenced him to death, nearly three years after a pipe bomb killed Fulford while on a routine patrol. On Feb. 1, 1992, Fulford clocked a vehicle doing 85 miles per hour on I-10 and had the driver pull over at the Aucilla exit ramp. Discovering that the driver did not possess a valid driver’s license and that the vehicle was rented to Howell in South Florida, Fulford took the driver and passenger into custody and had them transported to the Jefferson County jail. Following the two men’s departure, Fulford had the dispatcher call Howell, who told the dispatcher that he had given the driver permission to drive the vehicle but had not to take it north. Howell told the dispatcher nothing about the vehicle’s contents nor did he given any kind of warning. Fulford, meanwhile, decided to inventory the vehicle’s contents while waiting for the tow truck to arrive and impound the vehicle. Unbeknownst to him, one of the packages in the trunk was a gift-wrapped microwave oven rigged with a pipe bomb that was intended to silence a woman in Marianna. The woman was a witness who was scheduled to testify for the prosecution about a South Florida drug-related murder linked to Howell and his brother, Patrick. When Fulford opened the microwave, the explosion killed him instantly. The ensuing investigation uncovered a major multi-state drug ring known as the Jamaican Posse. The investigation resulted in the conviction of 28 people on federal drug charges, including the two Howell brothers.