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William Van Poyck Execution: Florida man due to be executed Wednesday for murder of prison guard

Van Poyck CBS Affiliate WPEC

Van Poyck
CBS affiliate WPEC
(CBS/AP) MIAMI - On Wednesday, 58-year-old William Van Poyck is scheduled to be executed at a Florida State Prison for the 1987 murder of guard Fred Griffis.

According to CBS affiliate WPEC, Van Poyck is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 o'clock tomorrow night.

Van Poyck and Frank Valdes attacked a prison van outside a West Palm Beach doctor's office in a failed attempt to free prisoner James O'Brien nearly 26 years ago.

The ambushers fatally shot Griffis after he threw the van's keys into nearby bushes to hinder the escape. Police arrested Van Poyck and Valdes after a high-speed car chase.

Valdes was stomped to death in prison in 1999. Seven prison guards were charged with his death but none was convicted.

According to WPEC, no one has ever known for sure whether Valdes or Van Poyck killed Griffis.

The station reported that Van Polyck maintains Valdes fired the fatal shots and that the jury which gave him the death sentence never heard the full story. Prosecutors said that this is irrelevant because Van Poyck planned the attack.

"They took one good man's life," said Norman Traylor, a cousin of Griffis told WPEC. She said Van Poyck was in the room when the sentence came down. "He had no regret, no remorse."

WPEC said Van Poyck published a memoir and he writes a blog with the help of his sister, Lisa, who lives in Virginia.

"I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death," Van Poyck said in the blog. But of Griffis' family, he wrote: "I suspect when I'm gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment."

Van Poyck's loved ones told the station that he is calmer now and finally capable of living up to the potential he showed as a kid when he lived in Miami and his father was an airline executive.

  • Crimesider Staff

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