Michael Zack III is set to be executed by lethal injection on Tuesday for the murder of Ravonne Smith, a bar employee he befriended and later beat and stabbed with an oyster knife in June 1996. Zack’s crime spree began in Tallahassee, where he was a regular at a bar. After being offered a loaned pickup truck by a bartender, Zack left and never returned. He then drove to a bar in Niceville, where he stole guns and money before pawning the stolen items.
Zack met Laura Rosillo at another bar and invited her to the beach. There, he brutally assaulted and murdered her. The following day, Zack met Ravonne Smith at a Pensacola bar. After smoking marijuana together, he went to her home, where he violently attacked, raped, and fatally stabbed her. Zack then stole her belongings and attempted to pawn them, but was caught by a suspicious pawn shop.
Zack, now 54, admitted to killing Smith, claiming he became enraged when she made a comment about his mother’s murder, which his sister committed. He argued that he acted in self-defense, believing Smith was reaching for a gun. His lawyers sought to stop the execution, citing fetal alcohol syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder as mitigating factors.
The US Supreme Court denied Zack’s appeal for a stay of execution on Monday afternoon without comment. This execution would be the eighth under Governor Ron DeSantis since 2019 and the sixth this year, following a hiatus in 2020 through 2022. Governor DeSantis has made tougher death penalty laws a focal point of his presidential campaign.