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 | Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Bishops Urge Governor DeSantis to Stay Execution of Donald Dillbeck

February 9, 2023 | The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) has written to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to stay the execution of Donald Dillbeck and commute his sentence to life without parole.

Dillbeck was convicted of and sentenced to death for the 1990 murder of Faye Vann in Tallahassee, Florida. He is also serving life sentences for armed robbery and armed burglary, as well as for the 1979 killing of Lee County Deputy Sheriff Dwight Hall.

In a letter on behalf of the bishops of Florida, Michael Sheedy, FCCB executive director, acknowledged that Dillbeck’s “heinous and violent crimes have caused tremendous grief and suffering to the victims’ loved ones and communities.” 

Yet, the FCCB requests that Governor DeSantis consider the mitigating circumstance in Dillbeck’s case, including traumatic physical and sexual abuse that he endured during his childhood, and irreversible brain damage and developmental disabilities as a result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Sheedy shared that implementing the death penalty is a violation of human dignity and undermines the sacredness of all human life. “The alternative to the death penalty of life-long incarceration without parole is a severe and more appropriate form of punishment that does not perpetuate the cycle of societal violence by taking someone’s life,” wrote Sheedy.

Dillbeck’s execution is scheduled to take place on February 23, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

 This is the fourth death warrant signed by DeSantis since taking office in 2019.


Prior to Dillbeck’s scheduled execution, Catholic faithful and members of the community will gather across Florida to pray for the victims of violent crimes and their families, for those on death row, for the governor as he confronts the decision to proceed with the execution, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.

Full text of letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis is available online.