The man convicted of brutally raping and murdering a 10-year-old Apopka girl was executed Wednesday.
Elmer Carroll’s execution went as scheduled for the death of Christine McGowan in 1990. He was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. following an injection at the state penitentiary at Starke, Gov. Rick Scott's office said.
Catherine Mohr taught 10-year-old Christine McGowan math more than two decades ago.
"She was spunky and full of life," said Mohr.
In October 1990, McGowan was raped and killed by Elmer Carroll, who lived in a halfway house next door to her parents’ home.
To this day, the tragedy still haunts the 10-year-old’s teacher.
"I still pray for her daily because she is a part of my life because I taught her in one of my first years teaching," said Mohr.
Back in 1990, McGowan was a third grader at Lockhart Elementary school.
The case stunned entire community, especially the students in her class.
"Heartbreaking. Very difficult to go through the days and the motions," Mohr described.
Robin Wilkinson was a prosecutor who helped put Carroll behind bars.
She said the case was one she'll never forget.
"Justice is served for Christine. The death penalty is something that’s only for the worst of the worst but this is the type of case that deserves it," said Wilkinson.
More than two decades later, people close to McGowan and the case remember what happened.
"Even though this man is going to be executed, it does not erase that that child's life was taken from her," said Mohr.
In November 1990, Carroll was indicted on a count of first-degree murder and sexual battery for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Christine McGowan. The girl lived with her family next door to a halfway house for homeless men, where Carroll was staying in Apopka.
Carroll, who had been imprisoned twice for indecent assault on a child, had told one of his housemates that the girl was "cute, sweet and liked to watch him make boats," according to witness testimony at his trial.
Christine's stepfather found the girl dead in her bedroom, and his truck was missing. The truck was found a short time later and an officer came upon Carroll, who had blood on his sweatshirt and genitals, while traces of his semen, saliva and pubic hair were found on Christine, according to court records.
Carroll's lawyers employed the insanity defense at his trial, during which they and prosecutors presented conflicting testimony from psychiatrists about Carroll's mental competency. During his two decades on death row, Carroll's lawyers argued that he's too mentally ill to stand trial or be subjected to the death penalty.
Hours before Elmer Carroll was scheduled by die by lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for the man convicted of raping and strangling a young girl 22 years ago in Orange County.
The petition was the final attempt to stop Carroll's execution at Florida State Prison in Starke. The 56-year-old death row inmate's lawyers argued he should have been considered mentally ill at the time of the murder.
Carroll was served bacon and eggs for his last meal at 10 a.m., which included a whole sliced tomato, a fruit salad with strawberries, papaya, peaches, pineapple and tropical fruit, an avocado and a can of Carnation milk.
Carroll had two visitors Wednesday morning, a mitigation specialist and a Catholic priest. No family visited.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.