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Former Florida policeman executed for 1986 killing spree

By Michael Peltier

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida executed a former police officer on Tuesday for a 1986 killing spree in which he murdered nine people whom he described in court as "parasites" and "leeches" and had "no right to live," a spokeswoman for Governor Rick Scott said.

Manuel Pardo, 56, was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke and was pronounced dead at 7:47 p.m., governor's spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

A former police officer in the Miami suburb of Sweetwater, Pardo testified that after killing his victims, he took photographs of them to "capture their spirits" and burned the pictures in a special ashtray, according to court records.

When police arrested Pardo for the killings, they found a collection of Nazi memorabilia in his apartment.

Pardo's attorneys painted a picture of a military veteran and former Florida Highway Patrol trooper who turned to drug dealing after being fired from the Sweetwater Police Department in 1985. They claimed Pardo was insane.

During his 1988 sentencing, Pardo claimed he was "a soldier" in the battle against illegal drugs and was not out for financial gain. He urged the court to sentence him to death.

The jury found him guilty of all nine counts and recommended he be executed. The judge agreed but after a string of appeals, it was not until October that Scott signed a death warrant.

Ann Howard, the spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said Pardo's execution went smoothly after final appeals were denied late on Tuesday afternoon.

His last meal consisted of roasted pork, red beans and rice, plantains, avocado and tomatoes with olive oil. For dessert, he had pumpkin pie, egg nog and Cuban coffee.

Pardo's execution was the 43rd carried out in the United States in 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Christopher Wilson)

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