Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gerald Eugene Stano

Justice Moves Slowly

Susan Bickrest, victim
Susan Bickrest, victim

On June 8, 1983, Stano entered guilty pleas in the deaths of Susan Bickrest and Mary Muldoon.   He waived his right to a hearing and Judge Foxman sentenced him to death.  Stano showed no emotion as the sentence was read and was quickly escorted back to Florida State Prison.

In September 1983, Stano was convicted of Cathy Lee Scharf's murder. The state introduced Stano's taped confession, in which he admitted to picking up Scharf while she was hitchhiking and then murdering her.   The jury convicted Stano of first-degree murder and recommended death. The trial court found four aggravators: prior conviction of a violent felony; the murder was committed during a kidnapping; the murder was heinous, atrocious, or cruel; and the murder was cold, calculated, and premeditated.  The trial court sentenced Stano to death and two years later his conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal.

Gerald Eugene Stano, 1984 mugshot
Gerald Eugene Stano, 1984 mugshot

During the next three years Stano went on to confess to more murders.   It is unknown how many he actually committed, and some began to wonder if he was confessing to ones he had heard about through the grape vine.  Investigators continued to collect names, but no further charges were ever filed.

On May 22, 1986, the governor of Florida signed Stano's first death warrant.  His execution was scheduled for July 2, 1986.  According to trial documents provided by the Florida State University College of Law, Stano filed his first motion for post-conviction relief on July 1, 1986, the day before his scheduled execution. The trial court granted a stay of execution until 10 a.m. July 2, 1986, to allow Stano the opportunity to appeal the ruling.  The following day Stano was granted a temporary stay of execution.

Stano's appeals were later denied and on June 4, 1987, the governor signed his second death warrant.   Execution was set for August 26, 1987.  Stano filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court of Florida on August 22, 1987.  The district court concluded that Stano's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel required an evidentiary hearing and granted him a temporary stay of execution.

Again Stano lost his appeal, and the governor signed Stano's third death warrant.   His execution was then scheduled for April 29, 1997.  On March 18, 1997, Stano filed a notice of conflict in respect to his then counsel and his execution date was changed to May 30, 1997.

But, as luck would have it, the malfunction in the electric chair during the execution of Pedro Media caused the court to stay Stano's execution pending resolution of the electric chair issues.  

On October 20, 1997, the court declared that the problems with the electric chair had been addressed and that it was not cruel or unusual punishment.   Stano's stay was dissolved and the governor reset his execution for March 23, 1998.

After a few more motions failed, Stano ran out of chances.


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