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Death warrant signed for man convicted of fatal escape

Published:   |   Updated: May 3, 2013 at 06:07 PM

TALLAHASSEE Gov. Rick Scott has signed a death warrant for a man convicted in the death of a prison guard.

The governor's office announced Friday that 58-year-old William Van Poyck is scheduled to die by lethal injection at Florida State Prison near Raiford at 6 p.m., June 12.

In June 1987, Van Poyck and co-defendant Frank Valdes ambushed two guards who were taking inmate James O'Brien in a prison van to a doctor's office in West Palm Beach. Corrections officer Fred Griffis died after being shot three times. Van Poyck and Valdes were unable to free O'Brien and were arrested a short time later when Valdes lost control of the Cadillac he was driving and struck a tree.

Van Poyck has taken responsibility for the slaying but denied he was the triggerman.

In 2003, Van Poyck wrote an autobiography, A Checkered Past: A Memoir. The book detailed a downward spiral that began as a child burglar and ended with his condemnation for the murder.

I've squandered away my entire life, thrown away everything I might have been, Van Poyck wrote.

Several guards at Florida State Prison were arrested and charged with stomping Valdes to death in 1999, but no one was convicted in two trials. Prison officials then sent Van Poyck to Sussex State Prison in Virginia for his own protection. That's where he wrote his 324-page book.

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