Askari Abdullah Muhammed, a/k/a Thomas Knight, was executed by the state of Florida shortly before 7 pm EST, on January 7, 2014. The executed occurred inside the execution chamber at the Florida State Prison, near Raiford, Florida. Askari was 62 years of age. He was executed for murdering 48-year-old correctional officer Richard James Burke with a sharpened spoon on October 12, 1980. At the time of Richard’s murder, Askari was on death row for the murder of 64-year-old Sydney Gans and his wife 60-year-old Lillian Gans on July 17, 1974. While awaiting trial for the murder of Sydney and Lillian, Askari escaped and participated in an armed robbery which resulted in one death. Askari was never tried for that crime.
As a child, Thomas was raised in poverty and frequently went hungry. At his trial, he alleged his father was an alcoholic who would frequently beat him. He also witnessed his father raping his sisters at a young age. Thomas was first arrested at the age of nine. Thomas, who was on parole from a previous crime, was employed by Sydney, who believed in giving parolees a second chance at his paper bag company. Thomas had worked for Sydney for 10 days prior to the murder. While in prison, Thomas converted to Islam and changed his name to Askari.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Richard Burke and Sydney and Lillian Gans. Please also pray for the family of Askari Muhammed.