He was executed Wednesday for breaking into a Florida woman’s home and stabbing her to death in 1986, a crime months after he was released from prison for rape.
Daryl B. died Wednesday at 6:14 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at a Florida state prison, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said. Berwick (56) was pronounced dead. The US Supreme Court rejected his final appeal to stay the execution earlier in the day.
Berwick has not met family members in person, but has spoken with them by phone in recent days, prison officials said, ahead of the scheduled execution. No relatives of the victim were scheduled to witness the execution, officials said.
Berwick confessed to killing 24-year-old Rebecca Wendt in her Panama City apartment on March 31, 1986, after seeing her sunbathing outside and returning to her room. He said he wanted to rob Wendt but then killed him when he resisted, stabbing him 37 times when he tried to fight him off.
Florida Department of Corrections via AP
Wendt’s bathing suit appeared as if someone had tried unsuccessfully to remove it, officials said. No evidence of sexual assault was found, but medical examiners reported finding semen on a blanket where her body was found.
Authorities said they linked Berwick to the crime based on his confession, semen stains, a witness who saw him go to and from Wendt’s apartment, and footprints in and out of the apartment.
He was convicted in November 1986 of first-degree murder, armed burglary, attempted sexual battery, and armed robbery and sentenced to death two months later on a 9-3 jury recommendation. The Florida Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 1989 on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. Berwick was found guilty again at his 1992 retrial, and that jury unanimously recommended death.
According to court records, Berwick killed Wend less than three months after being released from prison for raping a 21-year-old woman at knifepoint. In his confession to Wendt’s murder, Berwick said he stabbed him because he didn’t want to go back to prison.
DeSantis signed Berwick’s death warrant last month. It was the third execution in Florida this year after a hiatus dating back to 2019 It was also the state’s 102nd execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976