Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018 11:23 am EST
Eric Scott Branch is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm EST, on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. Forty-seven-year-old Eric is convicted of the sexual battery and murder of Susan Morris on January 11, 1993, in Pensacola, Florida. He has spent the last 24 years on Florida’s death row.
Eric allegedly had a difficult and unstable childhood growing up. At the time of the murder, Eric was wanted for sexually assaulting a girl in Panama City on New Year’s Eve. He was also in violation of his parole in Indiana, where he had been convicted of sexually battery and beating a 14-year-old girl.
Eric Branch knew he was wanted by the police for a parole violation and that his vehicle could be traced back to him. In an attempt to avoid arrest by the police, he decided to steal a vehicle from the University of West Florida in Pensacola. He targeted Susan Morris as she walked to her vehicle after an evening class on January 11, 1993. He took off with her in her car.
Her nude body was later discovered in nearby woods. She had been severely beaten and stomped. She had also been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. She had numerous bruises and lacerations throughout her body.
Branch was arrested a few days later in Indiana, where Susan’s car was also discovered. Branch had also been seen on the campus of the University of West Florida on the night Susan disappeared. Susan’s blood was found in the recovered vehicle and on clothing belonging to Branch. He was convicted and sentenced to death on May 3, 1994.
Ahead of his execution, Eric Branch requested that his execution be halted. He appealed to Circuit Judge Edward P. Nickinson, arguing on two points that he should not be executed. First, Eric claims that his young age at the time of the murder, 21, should have prevented him from ever being sentenced to death, as he was emotionally immature and his brain was not fully developed. Second, he is arguing that the 24 years he has already spent on death row is cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of his 8th Amendment rights. Judge Nickinson rejected both requests. Eric has appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, which has rejected his appeal.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Susan Morris. Please pray for strength for the family of Eric. Please pray that tif Eric is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason that evidence will be provided prior to the execution. Please pray that Eric may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.